TOKYO, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Key TOCOM rubber futures rose for a second day on Wednesday after stocks of imported rubber in China's bonded warehouses fell, pointing to increased demand in the world's biggest rubber consumer.
* The key Tokyo Commodity Exchange rubber contract for February delivery <0#2JRU:> was 2.1 yen higher at 275.5 yen as of 0057 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.5 percent on Tuesday, gaining for the first time in three days.
* Inventories of imported rubber in China's bonded warehouses have slipped 4 percent since the end of August, dealers said on Tuesday, reflecting increased demand from local tyre makers and optimism about the economy.
* Protesters blocked a highway in southern Thailand for a second day on Tuesday in a bid to force the government to increase a subsidy for rubber farmers, even though a curfew was imposed in the area after clashes with riot police on Monday.
* China has renewed private-buyer subsidies for "new energy" or electric-powered vehicles for another three years, in part to fight air pollution, but contrary to some expectations did not include gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles.
* The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to begin its long retreat from ultra-easy monetary policy on Wednesday by announcing a small reduction in its bond buying, while stressing that interest rates will remain near zero for a long time to come.
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* The U.S. dollar held near a four-week trough against a basket of major currencies in early Asian trade on Wednesday as investors bet that any move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to roll back stimulus will be very modest. The dollar was quoted around 99.20 yen by 0055 GMT.
* Japan's Nikkei share average rose about 1.6 percent in early trade on Wednesday as investors braced for a U.S. Fed's meeting at which it is expected to start winding down its massive stimulus spending.
* Brent crude oil prices settled at a six-week low on Tuesday as major world powers met to draft a resolution to destroy Syria's cache of chemical weapons, calming investor fears of an imminent U.S. military response. The resumption of some Libyan output also pressured prices.
* The following data is expected on Wednesday: (Time in GMT)
- 1230 U.S.
- 1230 U.S.
- 1800 Federal Open Market Committee ends policy meeting
- 1830 Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke holds news briefing (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Richard Pullin)