TOKYO, Oct. 27 -- Japan's output of rolled copper product fell to 66,145 tonnes in September on a seasonally adjusted basis, down 17.4 percent from a year earlier, as sluggishness in the overall economy offset a partial recovery in metals demand.
The figure from preliminary data released by the Japan Copper and Brass Association was up 4.7 percent from August.
Japan's output of rolled copper products rose for the sixth consecutive month in September on a seasonally adjusted basis, helped by recovery in automobile and semiconductor sectors.
But figures still showed year-on-year decline for the 14th month in a row, as Japan's demand for copper has not recuperated from a plunge that began late last year when major manufacturers cut output in a sharp economic downturn.
"Year-on-year declines have narrowed significantly from earlier this year due to a pick up in demand in semiconductor, automobile and electronics industries," an association official told reporters.
"It would be good to see figures reaching 70,000 tonnes, but I expect we still need more time because manufacturers remain cautious about output," the official said, adding that even in cases of orders exceeding capacity, makers were reluctant to boost production for fear of risking demand waning soon after.
The September figure was the highest since 68,596 tonnes in November 2008. Seasonally adjusted output stood at 80,081 tonnes in September last year when Lehman Brothers collapsed.
Demand for the types of copper used heavily in construction and public works, as well as for broader use has been struggling to show a clear recovery, reflecting the current state of the economy, the official said.
The association has said it expects demand for the year to March 2010 to total 713,930 tonnes -- the lowest since the year ended in March 1976 and representing an 11.5 percent decrease from the year ended in March 2009.
The Japanese Electric Wire and Cable Makers' Association said on Friday that copper wire and cable shipments fell 17.4 percent to an estimated 57,800 tonnes in September from a year earlier, extending a year-on-year decline into the 12th straight month due to a lack of strong demand from the construction sector. Shipments were up 14 percent from August.