Japan Copper-Alloy Product Output Slumps for Fifth Month

Japan’s output of copper and copper-alloy fabricated products fell 5.3 percent in March from a year earlier, declining for a fifth month as demand from the automotive sector remained subdued, an industry group said.

Production, including sheets and tubes, was 63,480 metric tons last month, compared with 67,001 tons a year ago, the Japan Copper & Brass Association said today. Output was 61,077 tons in February, down 4.7 percent from a year earlier.

Japan’s overall exports exceeded estimates in March and its trade deficit narrowed from the previous month after declines in the yen made the nation’s products more competitive. The trade deficit was still four times bigger than a year earlier and was a record for the year through March.

“It takes time to see signs of a recovery as demand from the semiconductor and auto industries remain subdued,” said Keizo Tani, association research manager. “Benefits from the weaker yen may be felt in coming months.”

The country’s output for copper products totaled 759,157 tons in the year ended on March 31, down 5.8 percent from the previous year, the data showed today. The industry group projected on March 22 output will rise to 800,500 tons this fiscal year on a weaker yen and government stimulus.

The Japanese currency has fallen 12 percent against the dollar this year as central bank Governor Haruhiko Kuroda rolls out unprecedented monetary stimulus to trigger a growth rebound. The yen touched a four-year low of 99.95 on April 11.

Copper wire and cable shipments fell 1.4 percent to 59,100 tons in March from a year earlier, declining for a fourth month, the Japanese Electric Wire & Cable Makers’ Association said on April 19. Shipments were 687,751 tons in the year ended on March 31, up 0.3 percent from the previous year. The association forecast on March 25 shipments will increase to 701,000 tons this fiscal year.

Copper for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange dropped 0.6 percent to $6,892 a ton at 11:23 a.m. in Tokyo, declining for a third day. The metal has retreated 13 percent this year.

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