Paper Outlook for Q2–Prices Holding Through Spring

Not long after revelers congregated in Times Square to watch the ball drop, signaling the start of 1998, paper prices reflected the first increase of the new year.

“It was three dollars per hundred weight or roughly 6.5 percent on a typical 40/45 lb. number four or five sheet,” relates Bruce Janis, president of MSPGA: Management Science for the Publishing and Graphic Arts, of the first-quarter jump.

MSPGA Internal Paper Analysis
Market Prices Charged by 10 Sample Printers
&nbsp 45 lb. No.5 40 lb. No.5
Nov. Mar. Nov. Mar.
A $42.90 $45.75 $45.76 $48.75
B $41.85 $44.86 $44.20 $47.00
C $43.75 $46.75 $43.00 $46.00
D $44.55 $48.68 $47.52 $50.25
E $44.59 $47.50 $50.55 $52.50
F $42.55 $45.70 $44.10 $47.25
G $45.55 $48.00 $46.85 $50.00
H $42.90 $45.90 $47.52 $50.52
I $41.56 $44.50 $50.22 $53.00
J $45.75 $48.75 $48.50 $51.50
Mean $43.60 $46.64 $46.82 $49.68
Source: MSPGA Management Science for the
Publishing and Graphic Arts (New York)
Questions or comments may be directed to
MSPGA at (888) MSPGA14. HTTP://

The increase was an anticipated reflection of a continued strong economy. “What’s happening is that we came off a very strong fourth quarter. The first increase of ’98 is holding,” reports Janis.

Bob Allen, manager of purchasing and scheduling at Banta Kansas City, concurs. “On Jan. 1, we received a significant increase on [gloss coated] groundwood in the 5-percent range,” he observes. “You’ve got upward pressure on pricing on the groundwood side attributable to no new capacity of any significance planned.”

The same can’t be said of free sheets, according to Allen. Prices for those grades haven’t budged.

“Late in the year, there was some conversation that free-sheet suppliers would be looking to increase,” Allen notes, “but that seems to have fizzled out at this time.”

Holding Steady
For the present, there appear to be no supply or stock out issues with which to be concerned. And with advertising pages and page counts continuing to be very strong, Allen expects the January increase to hold until the summer. However, no new increases should come this quarter.

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