In February, paper manufacturers warned pulp producers not to burden them with more prices increases. Pulp manufacturers on the other hand stated they could not rule out another hike in the first quarter if demand from China should notably increase after the Chinese New Year and if the US dollar should become stronger against the euro.
Business in the pulp market was relatively calm in the first half of February. There were no problems with availability of all grades in Europe, according to market participants. Supply of softwood pulp was sometimes even said to be plentiful. Spot offers of NBSK, however, were not yet threatening market stability although they were making their presence felt, reports indicated. One converter reported, however, that, at least in his case, rebates offered by suppliers on contract prices were sometimes that high that the available spot offers were not yet worth considering.
Even though no new pulp production capacity was added to the market last year in Europe, pulp supply in the market increased. On the one hand, several pulp manufacturers managed to beat their record production figures again, as annual reports revealed. On the other hand, integrated manufacturers temporarily and permanently closed paper machines making more market pulp available, especially in the NBSK segment.
Manufacturers of softwood as well as of hardwood grades described their order levels as normal to good and therefore were willing to try and complete the latest round of price hikes as soon as possible. However, several market participants were sceptical whether the last price step could be fully implemented in the NBSK segment, especially since inventory levels of bleached softwood pulp are likely to have increased in January.
⇒ This article is an excerpt from EUWID's monthly report on the pulp market. The EUWID Price Watch Pulp for February will be published in EUWID Pulp and Paper no. 10 on 6 March.
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