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Japan’s Copper Cable Shipments Extend Drop After Earthquake

Japan’s copper wire and cable shipments fell 1.4 percent in April from a year earlier, dropping for a second month as automakers reduced output after an earthquake and tsunami, an industry group said.

Shipments, including exports and domestic business, decreased to 55,400 metric tons last month from 56,200 tons a year earlier, the Japanese Electric Wire and Cable Makers’ Association said today in an e-mailed statement. Shipments in March dropped to 56,207 tons, 6.5 less than a year ago.

Japan’s economy was pitched into recession by the disaster, contracting by an annualized 3.7 percent in the three months through March after a 3 percent drop the previous quarter, according to data today. Companies including automakers were forced to scale back industrial production by the record quake, and consumers also cut back spending.

Shipments to the auto sector slumped 51 percent to 3,000 tons in April from a year earlier, the lowest level since January 1984, while shipments to the construction rose 22 percent to 26,900 tons, the association said.

Copper prices in London have gained 39 percent in the past year, reaching a record $10,190 per ton on Feb. 15 as global demand grew. The three-month contract traded at $9,034.75 per ton at 6:29 p.m. in Tokyo.

Copper wire and cable shipments were estimated at 682,763 tons in the year to March 31, according to the association. That’s up 3.1 percent from 662,472 tons the previous year, the lowest level in 35 years, its data shows.

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