TOKYO, June 10 -- Aluminium stocks held at three major Japanese ports rose 7.5 percent to 204,800 tonnes in May, trading house Marubeni Corp (8002.T: Quote) said, climbing for the first time in three months and hitting levels not seen since January.
Aluminium stocks rose 14,300 tonnes from a month earlier but fell 15.8 percent from a year earlier. The year-on-year drop narrowed from a 35.6 percent slump in April.
Marubeni collects data from the key ports of Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka.
"Stocks rose slightly but I don't expect them to gain much from here as demand is stable, thereby keeping stocks at an appropriate level," an official at Marubeni said.
"An increase in shipments from Australia, South Africa and Russia contributed to the rise in end-May aluminium stocks," the official said.
Japan, which must buy nearly all the metal it needs, imports about 2 million tonnes of primary aluminium every year. Industry sources said stocks amounting to around 10 percent of imports is considered appropriate and not in excess.
Japan's shipments of the metal have been recovering from a slump that set in after the global economic crisis in late 2008 and led automakers and other manufacturers to slash output and cut demand for the metal, which is used widely in products ranging from computers, planes and electronics to the food sector.
Japanese shipments of aluminium products rose 28.7 percent in April from a year earlier, partly thanks to robust demand in China and Southeast Asia.
Reflecting the recovery, some deals for term premiums for primary aluminium shipments to Japan for July-September were agreed at $120-$122 per tonne, down about 2 percent from the second quarter.
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.