Have Fibre Prices Peaked?
12-03-2008

The unprecedented bullish pulp and recovered paper prices appear to have peaked in March with spot buying for recovered paper now more favoured compared to Asian panic buying during the past twelve months when longer term contract for bulk grades were being requested.
 
It is uncertain how far prices will weaken for bulk grades, in particular, Mixed which has already dropped up to $35 from 1 March.
 
China has announced import restrictions of Mixed PS-2/3 (A2 definitions from America and Europe) which is the majority of Chinese imports for newsprint and duplex boards which has already created flow on surpluses from these Chinese Mixed paper restrictions into other Asian destinations at discounted prices.
 
Whilst this is occurring, oceanfreight rates are increasing globally as so called price restoration or due to equipment shortages as the weak  American currency has seen a surge in higher value US exports leaving recovered paper on the dock from most shipping ports.
 
Whichever way you look at it, costs are increasing, currency is firming and selling prices for bulk grades are uncertain for the second quarter and beyond.
 
In respect to pulp substitutes these prices are holding up as long as virgin pulp prices stay at record high levels.  De-inking capacity is expanding in Asia and many newsprint machines are switching to either high white news or stationery grades to achieve a higher profit margin.