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Japan’s Copper-Alloy Output Climbs First Time in 17 Months

Japan’s output of copper and copper-alloy fabricated products, including sheets and tubes, increased 0.5 percent in October from a year earlier, gaining for the first time in 17 months, an industry group said.

Production was 65,830 metric tons last month, compared with 65,520 tons a year ago, the Japan Copper & Brass Association said today, citing preliminary data. Output totaled 63,681 tons in September, down 6.9 percent from a year earlier.

Japan is suffering its worst year for exports since the global contraction in 2009 as Europe’s crisis, China’s slowdown and a diplomatic dispute with the Chinese hurt manufacturers and deepen the risk of a recession. The yen traded near the lowest in seven months after touching 82.84 on Nov. 22.

“It’s not a real recovery in October as the output drop in the same month a year earlier was worse led by the semiconductor industry,” said Keizo Tani, research manager at the association. “Production may remain subdued in coming months.”

Japan’s total shipments totaled 53.5 trillion yen ($653 billion) for January through October, down 2.3 percent from the same period in 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from Finance Ministry figures released on Nov. 21. The trade deficit for 2012 so far is a record 5.3 trillion yen.

The yen slid to a seven-month low after the trade data were released, trading as low as 82.84. It traded at 82.33 by 11:17 a.m. in Tokyo. Three-month copper fell 0.4 percent to $7,744.75 a ton on the London Metal Exchange. Copper, used in pipes, tubes and wires, has climbed 1.9 percent this year.

Japan’s copper wire and cable shipments declined 0.8 percent to 60,000 tons in October from a year earlier, slumping for a second month as demand from the auto and electric machinery industries slowed, the Japanese Electric Wire & Cable Makers’ Association said Nov. 20. They totaled 57,688 tons in September, down 2.5 percent from a year earlier.

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