The latest round of price talks on the northern bleached softwood kraft (NBSK) pulp market launched by two manufacturers ended in failure after no more suppliers joined their attempt to charge more from 1 February. Nevertheless, the industry is not entirely unlucky, especially as an attempt to raise prices had helped to stabilise them compared with the previous month. “It was not only a tactic to stop NBSK pulp prices from falling any further,” one manufacturer said, justifying its efforts to invoice more. The softwood pulp market was balanced, with many stoppages for maintenance on the horizon, he explained. This source felt that at least a small price increase would have been feasible if all producers had come on board.
The market leader for NBSK pulp has sounded the bell for a new round of price talks about higher prices to take effect from 1 April. Prices are to climb to $810/metr. t from this date. Regarding the timing, it appears clear that March will not have any major surprises in store in terms of softwood pulp prices. Southern softwood pulp prices were stable in February.
On the other hand, hardwood pulp remained under pressure. Converters were using data from the latest PPPC statistics, which showed a sharp month-on-month decline in deliveries, especially for hardwood pulp (-476,0000 t), and a 6-day rise in global hardwood pulp inventories to 47 days for January, as arguments in favour of lowering prices compared with January. Industry insiders think that additional price cuts are on the cards for March.