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Copper-Alloy Product Output in Japan Slumps for 14th Month

Japan’s output of copper and copper-alloy fabricated products, including sheets and tubes, tumbled for a 14th month in July as the country pared its assessment of the economy, an industry group said.

Production was 68,510 metric tons last month, down 5.7 percent from 72,658 tons a year ago, the Japan Copper & Brass Association said, citing preliminary data. Output totaled 68,917 tons in June, down 5.8 percent from a year ago.

Japan’s government downgraded its assessment of the world’s third-biggest economy for the first time in 10 months as some analysts forecast that gross domestic product will shrink this quarter. Risks include a “further slowing down of overseas economies and sharp fluctuations in the financial and capital markets,” the Cabinet Office said in a monthly report today.

“Although we saw a recovery in output for automakers, demand from the semiconductor and electronics parts industries still remained subdued,” said Keizo Tani, research manager at the association.

Copper, used in pipes and wires, has declined 16 percent in the past year. Three-month metal on the London Metal exchange fell 0.8 percent to $7,582.50 a ton at 12:09 p.m. in Tokyo.

JPMorgan Securities Japan Co. forecast a 0.3 percent annualized decline in the country’s gross domestic product in the three months through September, while BNP Paribas SA estimates a 0.9 percent fall. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey compiled this month was for 1 percent growth, partly supported by earthquake reconstruction work.

European austerity measures, U.S. unemployment and China’s slowdown are weakening global demand. Japan’s bigger-than-forecast trade deficit in July and slowing economic growth in the second quarter highlighted pressure on the Bank of Japan and the government to add stimulus.

Japan’s copper wire and cable shipments increased 9 percent to 59,800 tons in July from a year earlier as automobile and electric-machinery demand grew, climbing for a third month, the Japanese Electric Wire & Cable Makers’ Association said Aug. 20.

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