Aluminum Shipments by Japan May Reach 4-Year High on Weak Yen

Mar 28, 2014 4:22 am ET

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- Shipments of rolled-aluminum products by Japanese fabricators to domestic and overseas markets may increase to the highest level in four years as a weaker yen boosts exports, an industry group said.

Shipments for the year beginning April 1 are expected to climb to 2 million metric tons, the largest volume since the year ended March 2011, the Japan Aluminium Association said in a report today. It will mark the second straight year of increase.

The expansion will be led by a 23 percent increase in exports of flat-rolled products as a weak yen boosts the competitiveness of Japanese fabricators in markets such as China and Southeast Asia, it said. The yen has weakened 7.8 percent in the past year against the dollar.

Aluminum for three-month delivery on the London Metal Exchange has dropped 8.2 percent in the past year, the second- worst performer among six base metals on the bourse. The metal traded at $1,745.50 a ton at 5:08 p.m. in Tokyo.

The pace of growth in overall shipments will slow to 0.6 percent from 1.8 percent estimated for this fiscal year, as demand will weaken from the auto and housing industries after a sales-tax increase in April, the group said.

In February, shipments expanded 2.4 percent to 160,159 tons, the eighth straight month of increase, as consumers rushed to buy cars, appliances and houses before the government raises the sales tax to 8 percent on April 1 from 5 percent.