SINGAPORE, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Inventory of imported rubber in China's bonded warehouses have slipped 4 percent since the end of August, dealers said on Tuesday, reflecting an increase in demand from local tyre makers and optimism about the economy.
Rubber stocks at Qingdao, which are closely watched and make up the bulk of China's inventory, dropped to 283,000 tonnes on Sept. 17 from 295,000 tonnes on Aug. 30. Stocks in the bonded warehouses are not disclosed publicly, and dealers and analysts collect data on quantities from offices in Qingdao.
China is the world's largest rubber consumer, accounting for about 35 percent of global consumption. Rubber stocks at Qingdao consist of natural, synthetic and compound rubber.
"I think the drop in the stocks tells us that demand is picking up," said a dealer in Singapore. "Prices in the overseas market are no longer cheap like before, so it makes sense for buyers to get rubber from the warehouses."
Benchmark TOCOM rubber prices, which are currently trading above 270 yen per kg, have recovered more than 20 percent from a nine-month low plumbed in June.
Rubber demand is expected to be firm in China as indicated by vehicle sales in the country, which according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers rose 10.3 percent in August from a year ago. In January, the CAAM had forecast a 7 percent rise in China vehicle sales in 2013.
Growth in China's trade will stabilise in the coming months, the commerce ministry said on Tuesday, adding that it was confident the country could meet its target of 8 percent growth in overall trade this year. (Reporting by Lewa Pardomuan; Editing by Himani Sarkar)