US box shipments show April pickup, with 92,000 ton decline in board inventories

By Will Mies Thu, May 15, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO, May 15, 2014 (RISI) -After a weather-related slow first quarter start, US box shipments picked up in April, while containerboard inventories showed a more then seasonal 92,000 ton decline, according to the latest industry statistics.

Box shipments totaled 30.712 billion ft2, down 1.2% from a year ago, but 3.5% higher average week, adjusted for one less shipping day this April compared to a year ago, the Fibre Box Assn reported.

Year-to-date box shipments were down 0.3% on both an actual and average week basis from the first four months of 2013.

Containerboard inventories at box plants and mills declined 92,000 tons from the previous month to end April at 2.421 million tons. The decline is larger than the average five year decline of 71,00 tons and ten year drop of 57,000 tons, according to Adam Josephson of KeyBanc.

Total inventories remain "elevated" and "haven't been this high in April since 2007," noted Debbie Jones of Deutsche Bank.

US containerboard mill operating rates eased to 94.7% in April from 95.9% March and averaged 95.3% for the first four months, according American Forest & Paper Assn (AF&PA).

Total containerboard production in April was down 0.8% to 2.783 million tons from a year ago but up 0.8% year-to-date.

Containerboard production for export of 361,000 tons dropped from 418,000 tons the previous month, but was up 5.9% from a year ago, AF&PA reported.

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