Forecast of Japanese economic growth in 2013 by IMF was reported recently at 1.2% on year. It was same as the previous prediction done in October. Although the stay was relatively better result than down grade in western countries, Japan's slow growth rate is still thought to weigh on global economy.
However, petroleum demand is showing sign of recovery in Japan since early December. The steady fuel demand seems to represent economic recovery.
Crude oil processing by Japanese refiners recorded year-on-year increase during April and May 2012 since those figures were compared to serious slump following the severe earthquake in 2011. But the nation's petroleum demand slipped to negative on year in June-September 2012. It posted temporary recovery in October but slipped again in November. Then, Japan's crude processing has increased on year over the past seven consecutive weeks.
Another major energy index, electricity supply also recorded year-on-year growth in November and December. Can we see that these stronger energy demands represent Japanese economic recovery?
Of course, chilly weather condition has boosted energy demand during the current winter season. The Federation of Electric Power Companies mentions about the influence over power demand by weather in its monthly reports.
But electricity demand in the Tokyo Metropolitan area is estimated at 2.1% decline on year in the first 25 days in January. In other words, petroleum demand keeps steady growth despite slowing electricity demand in this month.
Therefore, recent increase of petroleum demand seems not only to be used for heating.
Japan's monthly average temperature in October 2012 was 0.58 degrees Celsius above the past 30-years average, according to the Meteorological Agency. Meanwhile, November average was 0.33 degrees below the long-term average and December average was lower by 1.32 degrees.
We can find that the temperature deeply affects on electricity demand, however, petroleum demand shows different movement.
Will Japanese petroleum demand fall again in the coming spring season, or continue to be firmer based on the economic recovery?