Japan’s Copper-Alloy Product Output Climbs 1% in February

Japan’s production of copper and copper-alloy fabricated products, including sheets and tubes, increased 1 percent in February from a year earlier, according to an industry group.

Output was 70,100 metric tons last month, compared with 69,427 tons a year ago, the Japan Copper and Brass Association said today, citing preliminary data. Production in January was 66,312 tons. A forecast for the year from April 1 wasn’t issued after the March 11 earthquake.

Copper, used in construction and automobiles, has gained 31 percent in the past year as the world economy recovered. Japan’s overall export growth accelerated in February, before the nation’s strongest earthquake shut factories and caused power shortages in a disaster that may disrupt trade for months.

“That’s the first time we’ve had an increase month-on-month since October,” said Keizo Tani, association research manager. The plan to release next fiscal year’s production forecast was scrapped after the quake and tsunami, Tani said.

“It’s uncertain for demand in coming months because of the earthquake and tsunami,” Tani said. The association had issued annual forecasts twice a year, in March and September, he said.

Japan’s overseas shipments rose 9 percent in February from a year earlier, from January’s 1.4 percent gain, the Finance Ministry said in Tokyo today. The median estimate of 16 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 9.1 percent gain.

The government said yesterday that damage from the quake may swell to 25 trillion yen ($309 billion), while the Bank of Japan said last week that the disaster may hurt business and consumer sentiment and prompt companies to cut output.

Separately, the country’s copper wire and cable shipments increased 5.4 percent to 57,800 tons in February from a year earlier, the Japanese Electric Wire and Cable Makers’ Association said March 22. Shipments in January were 56,658 tons.

The industry group also didn’t issue an estimate for shipments in the next fiscal year because of the disaster, said Nobuyuki Goto, deputy general manager at the association’s research department.

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