TOKYO, July 29 (Reuters) - Benchmark TOCOM rubber futures edged lower on Friday, weighed down by a higher yen ahead of a Bank of Japan policy decision due later in the day as well as falling oil prices, putting the contract on track for its first weekly drop in three weeks.
* The Tokyo Commodity Exchange rubber contract for January delivery <0#2JRU:> was down 0.9 yen, or 0.6 percent, at 157.2 yen per kg as of 0048 GMT, after rising 1 percent the previous day. For the week, it was headed for a 3.5 percent fall.
* The Bank of Japan (BOJ), under pressure from the government, is considering specific steps for expanding monetary stimulus on Friday to address signs of weakness in inflation, people familiar with the central bank’s thinking said.
* The latest attempt by major rubbers producers to boost prices has seemingly fizzled. At best, it can be said that the effort to boost natural rubber prices by the three top Asian producers has been a limited success.
* Ford Motor Co on Thursday declared the U.S. auto industry’s long recovery is at an end, sending its stock and those of rival auto companies tumbling.
* Harley-Davidson Inc on Thursday said a decrease in total sales and soft domestic demand lowered second-quarter profit and has led the company to trim its forecast for motorcycle shipments in 2016.
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* The yen firmed on Friday, spiking to a 2 1/2-week high against the dollar as investors braced for the possibility that the BOJ’s expected easing steps will disappoint market players hoping for more radical measures. The dollar was down 0.5 percent at 104.76 yen, after earlier skidding as low as 103.30, its lowest since July 12.
* Oil prices settled down nearly 2 percent on Thursday, hitting April lows and with U.S. crude headed for its biggest monthly loss in a year, on growing worries that the world was pumping more crude than needed.
* Japan’s benchmark Nikkei stock average inched lower on Friday in nervous trade as investors waited to see if the BOJ will come up with stimulus that would meet markets’ expectations.
* The following data is expected on Friday: (Time in GMT)
0530 France Preliminary GDP Q2
0600 Germany Retail sales Jun
0645 France Consumer spending Jun
0900 Euro zone Preliminary GDP Q2
0900 Euro zone Inflation Jul
0900 Euro zone Unemployment rate Jun
1230 U.S. Advance GDP Q2
1230 U.S. Employment wages Q2
1345 U.S. Chicago PMI Jul
The Bank of Japan announces policy decision
Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Richard Pullin