Japan Copper Tube Supply Gets Tighter

Japanese dealers’ copper tube inventory is decreasing. The dealers increased the inventory with expectation for potential supply shortage due to consolidation of domestic makers. But the dealers’ shipment is higher than the arrivals form the makers due to seasonal higher demand for air conditioner. The dealers cannot meet some order due to low level inventory when the demand is also firm for commodity grade products.

Hitachi Cable, which was one of Japanese major 4 copper tube makers, withdrew from domestic copper tube production in March. The dealers and traders increased copper tube stock to prepare for tighter supply during demand season for air conditioner through summer.

One major maker source sees the dealers’ stock is decreasing due to tighter supply since April while the dealers apparently secured higher stock through March. The supply gets tighter for commodity grade tube for refrigerator than air conditioner grade. The demand decreases for commodity grade around December in normal but one dealer source sees the demand is steady even in late May.

The dealers try to increase the stock of commodity grade products. However, the lead time is 0.5-1 month longer than normal level while 3 major makers keep full capacity operation. The tight supply could continue through summer for commodity grade products when the tube makers are busy to meet demand for air conditioner.