MAY 2009

Total printing-writing paper shipments down 25 percent for the year-to-date

According to the American Forest & Paper Association’s (AF&PA) February 2009 Printing-Writing Paper Report, total printing-writing paper shipments decreased 24.5 percent in February compared to February 2008. For the year-to-date, shipments were down 25.1 percent. United States purchases of printing-writing papers dropped 24.2 percent in February versus year-ago and declined 25.8 percent for the year to date. Total printing-writing paper inventory levels increased 5,600 tons, or 0.3 percent, from January.

The United States became a net exporter of uncoated free sheet (UFS) for first time since at least January 1995. UFS shipments fell 19.1 percent compared to February 2008. For the year-to-date, UFS shipments were 19.4 percent below last year. United States purchases of UFS were also down, declining 20.7 percent when compared to February 2008, as imports in January have declined at a faster rate than shipments, down 44.2 percent compared to January 2009. In fact, UFS imports have slowed to below the level of exports for the first time since at least January 1995, which is as far back as AF&PA electronic records of trade data are available. UFS inventories decreased 0.4 percent compared to last month, a decline of 4,400 tons.

Coated free sheet (CFS) shipments hit double-digit decline for the fifth consecutive month. CFS shipments dropped by 24.3 percent compared to February 2008. For the year-to-date, shipments of CFS were down 25.7 percent. United States purchases of CFS decreased 21.9 percent compared to last February and were off 24.2 percent for the year to date. CFS imports have recorded double-digit year-ago declines for 24 out of the past 26 months. During those same 26 months, CFS exports recorded 15 double-digit year-ago increases, and just six year-ago decreases. CFS inventories decreased 0.7 percent compared to January, a decline of 4,300 tons.

Uncoated mechanical (UM) shipments declined for the sixth consecutive month following seventeen consecutive months of increases. UM shipments decreased 28.6 percent when compared to February 2008 and for the year to date were down 32.2 percent. United States purchases of UM were down 25.7 percent when compared to February 2008 and were down 29.8 percent for the year to date. UM imports have declined compared to the prior year for the past eleven months. UM inventories increased 7.4 percent, or 6,800 tons, from January.

Coated mechanical (CM) shipments decreased the most in January, its tenth consecutive decline, following twelve consecutive months of increases. CM shipments fell 36.4 percent when compared to February 2008. Year-to-date shipments of CM were down 35.6 percent compared to last year. United States purchases of CM were down 32.2 percent compared to February 2008, and for the year to date were down 32.3 percent. CM inventories increased 2.6 percent, or 7,400 tons, from last month.