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UK mill stocks on the rise for the third consecutive month

With statistics now available for the first 11 months of last year, it seems highly unlikely that 2004 will have brought any major change in overall UK paper and board production. As for recovered paper, a 1.5% increase in November 2004 meant that year-to-date consumption maintained a small 1.7% lead over the figure for 2003. In volume terms, the January-November total went up from 4.167m tonnes in 2003 to 4.238m tonnes last year.
However, the closeness of the last two years' cumulative totals disguises massive fluctuations among the different classes of recovered paper, three of which saw significant declines. Consumption of Class I mixed grades fell 9.4% in the first 11 months of last year from 309,346 tonnes to 280,224 tonnes; the total for Class II corrugated and kraft dipped 6.3% from 2.061m tonnes to 1.932m tonnes; while January-November consumption of Class IV high grades dropped 4.8% from 694,989 tonnes to 661,564 tonnes. However, these declines were more than offset by the increase for Class III newspapers and magazines, consumption of which leapt 23.9% in the first 11 months of last year to push the cumulative total from 1.102m tonnes to 1.365m tonnes.
A broadly similar pattern emerged when looking at November statistics in isolation. Consumption of newspapers and magazines reached 129,867 tonnes in the eleventh month of last year, a whopping 32% increase over the 98,388 tonnes recorded in November 2003. Corrugated and kraft consumption was 11% lower at 164,889 tonnes while the high grades total showed a decline of 8.3% to 59,907 tonnes. As for mixed grades, consumption in the first 10 months of 2004 had been significantly lower whereas the total for November of 26,472 tonnes was actually 0.3% - or 69 tonnes - higher than the 26,403 tonnes posted in the eleventh month of 2003.
UK mill intake figures were generally positive for November 2004, although there was a 10.9% decline in the corrugated and kraft total to 172,661 tonnes. The other three classes of recovered paper registered the following intake increases when compared to November 2003: mixed grades up by 5% to 26,493 tonnes; newspapers and magazines up 15.8% to 141,810 tonnes; and high grades up by 1.6% to 62,244 tonnes.
However, when taking the first 11 months of the year as a whole, a 1.3% fall in intake of the high grades meant that the running total slipped from 694,272 tonnes in 2003 to 685,231 tonnes last year, while intake of mixed grades dropped by 5.2% in January-November 2004 to 283,404 tonnes. After 10 months of 2004, intake of corrugated and kraft had been only 2.9% below that of the previous year, but the significant drop in November saw the cumulative total fall from 2.024m tonnes in 2003 to 1.95m tonnes the following year - a disparity of 3.7%.
As with recovered paper consumption, intake figures were buoyed by newspapers and magazines. The November 2004 total of 141,810 tonnes was a clear 15.8% above the 122,409 tonnes recorded in the same month of the previous year; intake of newspapers and magazines during the first 11 months of last year was 1.378m tonnes - a full 17% ahead of the 1.178m tonnes witnessed during the same period of 2003.
The latest figures from the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) confirm that, in November last year, UK mill stocks of recovered paper rose for the third consecutive month. The most significant increase in proportional terms was reserved for Class II corrugated and kraft whose inventory expanded 10.1% to 65,677 tonnes, thereby pushing supply at the prevailing rate of usage from 1.4 weeks to 1.7 weeks. Not far behind came newspapers and magazines, stocks of

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