TOKYO, May 13 -- Aluminium stocks held at three major Japanese ports came to 190,500 tonnes at the end of April, down 2,300 tonnes, or 1.2 percent, from a month earlier, data from trading house Marubeni Corp (8002.T: Quote) showed.
Marubeni collects data from the key ports of Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka.
The monthly drop in stocks slowed from March when they fell 3.9 percent from February.
Stocks held at the ports marked a 10-year high at the end of February 2009 but then started falling and hit 169,900 tonnes at the end of September 2009, their lowest since Marubeni began keeping records about 14 years ago.
The level of stocks in April was down 35.6 percent from a year earlier.
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.
Japanese shipments of aluminium products rose 50.3 percent in March from a year earlier to 186,714 tonnes, the fourth straight month of year-on-year climbs, Japan Aluminium Association data showed last month.
That was up 13.7 percent from February, the second month-on-month gain, but still 3.5 percent below levels in March 2009 before the global economic crisis hit demand.