Total domestic vehicle sales in Japan for 2017 were reported as 5.23 million units, higher by 5.3% from the 4.97 million of the previous year. Japan is the world’s third largest individual car market after China and the US. Passenger car sales were up by 5.8% for the year to 4.39 million units, while commercial vehicles including trucks and buses rose 2.9% y/y.Reading Time: 1 minute
Domestic sales for the month of December actually declined marginally, down 0.8% from the comparable period of last year at 394,254 vehicles, with a similar drop in passenger car sales to 330,300 units. December vehicle sales also fell 3.1% m/m. For comparison, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association reported total sales of 5.05 million units in 2015. A strengthening economy could portend further increases in Japanese domestic car sales through 2018.
The Bank of Japan tapered its monthly purchases of long-dated bonds by ¥20 billion last week, less than 4% of the normal buying level, sparking speculation that monetary policy could begin to see some modest tightening later in the year. But the slight reduction in purchases may be little more than an interim adjustment and not a precursor of policy change. In 2016 the BoJ stated that short-term interest rates would remain at -0.1% and that yields on the 10-year bond would be fixed at zero percent with a goal to reflate the economy. The most recent report on consumer inflation of 0.9% is still well short of the 2% target inflation rate set by the BoJ. The Japanese economy grew at an annualized 2.5% in the latest 3rd quarter 2017 data, exceeding earlier projections of 1.7% in calendar 2017; the Japanese economy posted growth of only 1.0% in 2016.
Also in this week’s Platinum Market Review:
-The year-end rally in metal prices ran into some resistance earlier last week as interest rates on the US 10-year bond ratcheted up -Platinum prices rose to a four-month high of just over $1,000 an ounce -Tharisa Minerals was the first to announce quarterly mine production results for the December period -Palladium prices were hit by a brief round of profit taking earlier last week -Total Chinese vehicle sales in 2017 were reported as 28.88 million units, up 3% -Rhodium prices appear to have settled for now at just under $1,700 an ounce -Gold prices also met some resistance last week above $1,325 an ounce
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