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U.S. Newsprint Improvement Continues

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U.S. West Coast newsprint producers closed the gap with East Coast producers, Wilde reports, with list price in the West rising $20/metric ton in September to $610/metric ton. With East Coast prices flat in September, the gap is now down to $30/metric ton. Reports suggest that small customers are paying the full $40/metric ton increase this month, he notes. For large customers, however, price pass-thru is happening in two monthly installments of $20/metric ton each. In addition to the $40/metric ton September price increase, White Birch implemented a $25/metric ton price increase in the western markets beginning the first of this month. No other producer has yet announced a hike for October, Wilde adds.

The August North American newsprint operating rate was 97%, according to Wilde. Total U.S. newsprint consumption was -2.9% y/y. Recent data suggest that newspaper ad-spending in the U.S. is improving. Meanwhile, producers are increasingly focusing on alternative products (high brites and packaging grades) and off-shore markets such as Asia, Lain America, and the Middle East, where newsprint demand is growing, Wilde explains.