SHANGHAI, Apr. 16 (SMM) - A recent SMM survey of 20 domestic copper tube/pipe manufacturers (total capacity at 1.3 million mt/yr) revealed the following insights:
1) Average Operating Rate at Copper Tube/Pipe Manufacturers in March Rises to 85.54%
The SMM survey shows the average operating rate at copper tube/pipe manufacturers increased 23.41% MoM and 5.43% YoY to a high 85.54% in March, with operating rates at large manufacturers remaining above 90% and rates at SMEs still recovering slowly. In this context, the competitiveness of large manufacturers continues to grow at the expense of smaller manufacturers and SMEs. Air-conditioner output grew on a YoY basis due to improved domestic and overseas sales, helping boost demand for copper tube. Improvement in home sales resulting from rigid demand during 2H 2012 and in early 2013 helped increase domestic consumption of air-conditioners. As consumption in foreign markets improves and as air-conditioner manufacturers step up efforts to develop foreign markets, air-conditioner exports have shown growth for five straight months. Gree Electric Appliances, the Chinese manufacturer with the largest air-conditioner market share, reported an 11% YoY increase in 1Q operating income, and expects 40% growth for the entire year with its commercial air-conditioners and air conditioners used widely in upscale residential housing. The recent increase in sales at domestic air-conditioner manufacturers is driving up demand for refrigeration pipes, so operating rate at copper tube/pipe producers is expected to remain high in April at around 85.97%.
2) Raw Material Inventories at Copper Tube/Pipe Producers in March Down to 11.92%
The proportion of raw material inventories at copper tube/pipe producers fell in March to 11.92%. Market concerns over growing inventories were on the rise as copper prices continued to fall after the Chinese New Year. In response, producers were keeping raw material inventories under control in order to avoid risks caused by lower copper prices.