TOKYO, Nov. 30 -- Japan's shipments of aluminum rolled products dropped at the slowest pace in a year in October as an economic recovery improved demand for the metal from carmakers and machinery companies.
Supplies to the domestic and export markets fell 14 percent to 165,480 metric tons from 193,157 tons a year earlier, the Japan Aluminium Association said in a statement today. The pace of decrease slowed for an eighth month after beginning to decline in October last year. Shipments plunged 39 percent in February, the worst drop in 34 years, as an economic slump slashed demand for the metal used in houses and car parts.
Japan's economy expanded at an annual 4.8 percent in the third quarter, the fastest pace in more than two years, led by a rebound in domestic demand, government data showed last week. It was the second straight advance after the nation's deepest postwar recession.
"Demand from machinery makers increased in October for the first time in 13 months as companies are reviving capital spending," Koji Iida, head of statistics at the association, said today in Tokyo. "Aluminum shipments for use in manufacturing equipments for semiconductors and liquid crystal displays were strong."
Shipments of flat-rolled products to machinery makers rose 10 percent to 2,663 tons in October, the highest level since September last year, the association's data showed. Tokyo Electron Ltd., the world's second-largest maker of semiconductor equipment, has decided to resume construction of a factory to meet rising demand, the Nikkei newspaper said today.
Aluminum demand from the auto and electronics sectors also continued to improve as government incentives raised sales of energy-efficient cars and appliances, Iida said. Japan's vehicle sales increased 13 percent in October from a year earlier, marking a third straight month of gain, as government subsidies and tax cuts helped lift demand for hybrid cars.