TOKYO, Feb. 26 -- Japanese shipments of aluminium products rose 23.1 percent in January from a year earlier, industry data showed on Friday, underpinned by a recovery in demand in the auto, electrical appliances and food sectors.
Shipments in January rose to 150,373 tonnes, marking the second straight month on year-on-year increases, Japan Aluminium Association data showed.
From December, shipments fell 3.6 percent for the third consecutive monthly drop, and were the lowest since 138,920 tonnes in August.
The global economic crisis reduced demand for the metal as automakers and other manufacturers slashed production after late 2008, but demand for aluminium has returned to about 80-85 percent of levels seen before the crisis.
Japan's industrial output rose 2.5 percent in January, beating economists' median estimate for a 1.0 percent rise, as manufacturers ramped up production to meet demand from fast-growing Asia, data showed on Friday.
But aluminium industry officials remain worried about the pace of recovery this year as Japan's economy remains fragile in the face of persistent deflation and with notable weakness in the construction sector.
Japan is Asia's largest importer of primary aluminium, which is also used in packaging, with annual demand estimated at about 2 million tonnes.
Aluminium stocks held at three major Japanese ports at the end of January rose about 3 percent from a month earlier, and were seen staying around the same levels for a while, trading house Marubeni Corp (8002.T: Quote) said on Wednesday.