|"The flat glass makers have been assessing
energy surcharges for well over 1 year. These surcharges
are tied to the natural gas prices and have been as high
as $600 per truckload. We don't see this changing significantly
in 2004," says Mark Delp, executive vice president for Gemtron
Corporation (Sweetwater, TN, U.S.).
The economic conditions that drive flat glass demand
are improving," he adds. "Housing starts have remained
strong; forecasted at or above 1.75 million units in 2003.
Continued low interest rates have been giving the housing
market a strong foundation for growth. Lower interest rates
have also driven growth in the remodeling sector through
second mortgages. This money is often invested in remodeling
kitchens, which is positive for the appliance industry.
Non-residential construction improved slightly in the second
half of 2003, and the industry is hopeful for a better
recovery in 2004," Mr. Delp says.
In glass production, a rotary cross cutter slits a glass ribbon crosswise
prior to packing. Photo courtesy of Pilkington (Toledo,
"Glass availability has been very good," reveals Rick
McCurdy, business segment leader for Specialty Glass Products
at Pilkington (Toledo,
OH, U.S.). "The big story has been the cost of natural
gas, which has necessitated energy surcharges in the industry.
I expect these surcharges, which are set quarterly, will
remain for a while - until gas gets down to more historical
levels. Demand overall looks to be up slightly, with more
glass going to the commercial sector. But there is a little
excess capacity, and pressure from imports. In commodity
glass, a lot more is coming from China."
expect glass prices to increase in 2004. The
reasons are the improving economic conditions
and the rising natural gas costs."
Mark Delp of Gemtron