Japan Copper-Alloy Product Output May Climb 5.4% on Stimulus

Japan’s demand for copper and copper-alloy fabricated products may gain 5.4 percent in the year starting in April on a weaker yen and government stimulus.

Demand for products, including sheets and tubes, may rise to 800,500 metric tons, compared with 759,500 tons this fiscal year, the Japan Copper & Brass Association said today, citing preliminary data.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said yesterday he’s confident of achieving a 2 percent inflation target, rebutting doubters who predict his efforts will fail as he prepares to strengthen monetary stimulus. Japan yesterday reported its longest run of trade deficits in three decades as exports fell in February and import costs rose on a weaker yen and an extra reliance on fossil fuels because of nuclear-plant shutdowns.

“We’ll probably see a full-scale recovery in demand after this summer,” said Keizo Tani, association research manager. “The yen’s weakness will help the export industry and the government’s efforts to revive growth will improve overall sentiment in the domestic market.”

Production declined 4.8 percent to 61,010 tons in February from a year earlier, slumping for a fourth month, the industry group said. In January, output totaled 56,637 tons, down 5.4 percent from a year ago.

“Benefits from the weaker yen have yet to be felt in the industry,” Tani said, referring to the monthly output data.

The Japanese currency has fallen 9.4 percent against the dollar this year amid Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s calls for aggressive monetary easing to end deflation. The yen touched 96.71 on March 12, the weakest level since August 2009.

Copper wire and cable shipments, including exports and domestic business, fell 6.2 percent to 55,700 tons in February from a year earlier, dropping for a third month, the Japanese Electric Wire & Cable Makers’ Association said on March 19. The group will issue a forecast for the next fiscal year on March 25.

Copper for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.5 percent to $7,620 a ton at 12:23 p.m. in Tokyo. The metal has declined 3.9 percent this year.

(Adds industry official comment in fourth paragraph.)
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