UPDATE 1-Thailand set to sell 98,000 T of rubber from state stockpiles

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BANGKOK, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Thailand will sell 98,000 tonnes of rubber from state stockpiles in the first state auction of the year, the country’s rubber authority said on Thursday.

The sale was worth over 6.64 billion baht ($187.57 million), said Titus Suksaard, governor of the Rubber Authority of Thailand.

The rubber, which comes from 26 state warehouses, includes block rubber and smoked rubber sheets, Titus told reporters.

The sale comes as Thailand, the world’s biggest rubber producer and exporter, has suffered from flash floods in its southern provinces, the country’s main rubber-growing region, which have killed 45 people and halted the rubber tapping season.

Global rubber prices have spiked on concern about the impact. Thailand’s rubber prices are also expected to rise this year due to scant flood-hit supply.

After the sale, Thailand still has about 212,000 tonnes of rubber in state stockpiles, down from 310,000 tonnes.

Thailand’s military government started buying rubber from farmers as prices started declining in 2014.

The government plans to clear the remaining stocks within this year, Chao Songarvut, deputy governor of the Rubber Authority, told Reuters. ($1 = 35.40 baht) (Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)