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The Final Word by Chuck Swann
US production of most paper grades trended downward in February, with few exceptions, according to the latest available data gathered by the American Forest and Paper Association. Extreme weather conditions, especially record amounts of snow, probably contributed to pushing production rates down in mills outside the US south.

● Printing-Writing Grades: Total printing-writing paper shipments decreased 5.0% in February, compared to February 2014, with inventory levels essentially unchanged from January.

Uncoated free sheet paper shipments in February decreased 7.0% compared to February 2014. Imports of UFS were down 10% year-to-year in January, following 14 consecutive months of increase.

February coated free sheet paper shipments were down 1.0% compared to February 2014. Imports of CFS papers increased 10% in January, compared to January 2014, the ninth consecutive year-over-year increase.

Uncoated mechanical paper shipments were up 1.0% in February, the second consecutive month of increase. Imports of UM papers were down 14% in January.

Coated mechanical shipments in February were down 8.0% compared to February 2014, the lowest level of shipments since 1995. Exports of CM were up 16% in January, the firsts increase in the past four months.

● Boxboard Production: Total boxboard production was down 1.8%, compared to February 2014 and down 9.0% from the previous month.

Unbleached kraft boxboard production in February was down compared to the same month of 2014 and also down compared to January 2015.

Total solid bleached boxboard and liner production increased when compared to February 2014, but was down compared to January 2015.

Production of recycled boxboard in February was down compared to both February 2014 and January 2015.

● Containerboard Production: In February, these grades were essentially flat compared to February 2014. The month-over-month average daily production compared to January 2015 was 2.0% lower. The containerboard operating rate for February was down to 94.7% from January's 96.3%.

● Kraft Papers: Total shipments in February were 116.9 thousand tons, 6.0% lower than in January. Bleached kraft paper shipments decreased to 8.3 thousand tons, down from January's 9.4 thousand. Unbleached kraft paper shipments fell to 108.6 thousand tons, down from January's 115.0 thousand tons. Overall, kraft paper shipments for the first two months of 2015 were 6.6% lower than in the first two months of 2014. Total month-end inventories rose to 85.0 thousand tons.

Chuck Swann is the senior editor of Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at chuck.swann@taii.com.

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