SHANGHAI, Mar. 1 (SMM) -- A recent SMM survey of 17 medium and large-size copper plate, sheet, strip and foil producers (total capacity: 800kt/yr) revealed the following insights:
1) Operating Rates Fall Due to Seasonal Factors, Expected to Improve in March
According to the survey, overall operating rates at the 17 copper plate, sheet, strip and foil producers were 54.8% in February, down 4.4% from January levels, and due mainly to the impact from the Chinese New Year holiday. However, the average operating rate was up 7.1% compared with last year's holiday. Producers in the survey report strong downstream orders, and that overall market activity in early 2010 was better than last year. SMM believes operating rates will improve significantly in March.
2) Raw Material Inventories Grow During February
The survey also revealed that raw material stocks at the 17 copper plate, sheet, strip and foil producers were 32.5% of consumption in February, up 8.7% from January levels. Pre-holiday stock replenishment and the need to satisfy downstream orders in March resulted in significant increases in raw material inventories, especially at large producers. Stocks of raw materials at smaller producers fell due to volatile copper prices before the holiday. Those small producers with a more flexible purchasing strategy were able to keep raw material stocks low and reduce risks, while those large producers with downstream orders in hand increased stock levels to meet production.
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