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Japan January aluminum port stocks at 32-month high as demand declines

Tuesday, 14 February 2012 | 11:00
Stocks of primary aluminum stored at Japan's three main international ports at the end of January totaled 277,800-280,000 mt, the highest level in 32 months, due to a flurry of ships arriving amid a slowdown in domestic demand, local traders said Monday.
Stocks of primary ingot, billet, slab and alloy products at the three ports stood at 277,800 mt at the end of January, up from 247,300 mt a month earlier, according to Tokyo trading house Marubeni. The level was the highest since Marubeni recorded 295,600 mt in April 2009.
Another Tokyo trading house put the stocks at 280,000 mt, up from 253,300 mt a month earlier, and also at 32-month high since 292,000 mt in April 2009.
Stocks were also at 32-month high at end December. The typical stock level is around 200,000 mt, local industry sources have said.
Japanese traders said port stocks have swollen due to the time lag between the decline in demand and the flow-on cuts to supplied volumes. Ships take one to two months to deliver metal into Japan from smelters overseas.
"Ships arriving from Australia in January were carrying December shipments. Japan has bought much less from January, and incoming cargo volumes should drop noticeably in February-March, which will eventually show in the future stocks," a Tokyo trader said.
In January, two ships arrived from Brazil instead of one, as a December arrival was delayed. In addition, one ship from Argentina and another from Indonesia that deliver aluminum into Japan once in two months or more both arrived in January, two traders said.
One trader also pointed to slower-than-expected demand in January. "Outgoing cargo volumes have dropped due to slowing consumption by sheetmakers affected by weak machinery and beverage cansheet demand," the trader said.
Marubeni's survey put Yokohama port stocks at 135,800 mt, Nagoya at 127,000 mt and Osaka at 15,000 mt. The second trading house said Yokohama's stocks were 135,800 mt, Nagoya's 129,200 mt and Osaka's 15,000 mt.
Source: Platts
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