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JAP - Aluminum Demand, Copper Output Jump to Year’s High

Aluminum shipments and copper product output in Japan jumped to the highest level this year as the global economy recovered from the worst slump since the Great Depression.

Supplies of aluminum rolled products to the domestic and export markets gained 5.1 percent in July from June to 166,673 metric tons, the most since October, the Japan Aluminium Association said today. Copper and alloy product output rose 6.1 percent to the highest level since November, the Japan Copper and Brass Association said.

Aluminum has gained 20 percent and copper has more than doubled on signs the world economy is emerging from recession as record-low interest rates and trillions of dollars in fiscal stimulus spur demand. Japan’s economy grew for the first time in five quarters in the three months to June 30.

“Shipments improved thanks to better demand from the auto and electronics industries,” said Koji Iida, the aluminium association spokesman. “Sales may decline in August as a cool and rainy summer slowed sales of beverage cans.”

Aluminum for delivery in three months in London fell 1.3 percent to $1,841 a ton at 5:26 p.m. Tokyo time. Copper, used in homes and cars, fell 0.5 percent to $6,260 a ton.

Compared with a year earlier, July’s shipments of aluminum rolled products dropped 20 percent as demand from the construction sector remained weak, the association said. Still, the pace of decrease was the slowest in eight months, it said.

Car Sales

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automaker, this month raised its global sales forecast to 6.6 million vehicles from its May forecast of 6.5 million as government stimulus measures boost demand. The U.S., Germany, Japan and China offered consumers credits, tax breaks and subsidies for trading in old cars as the vehicle industry’s worst slump in decades forced Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. into bankruptcy.

Japan’s economy grew last quarter as exports and consumer spending rebounded. Gross domestic product expanded at an annual 3.7 percent pace in the period ended June 30, following an 11.7 percent decline in the first three months of the year, the Cabinet Office said Aug. 17.  The global economy is beginning to recover from the recession, Olivier Blanchard, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, said in a paper released Aug. 18.

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