Singamas Container Holdings expects shipping lines and leasing companies to place more orders in the second half as they abandon hopes that steel prices may fall in the near future. The world's No2 container maker said production would exceed 500,000 teu (20-foot equivalent units) this year, against 466,000 boxes last year, due to strong demand for shipping services as a result of surging mainland trade and the global economic rebound. It made more than 267,000 boxes in the first half. 'As the steel price didn't drop last month as expected, more people are coming to inquire [about placing orders] this month,' chief executive Teo Siong Seng said yesterday. He said the forward order books were full for the next two to four months, depending on the location of the production plants. The capacity of the firm's facility in the Pearl River delta would be fully utilised until the end of the year. Due to rising steel prices, a container now costs US$1,900, up from $1,350 at the end of last year. Mr Teo does not expect prices to fall this year. Container manufacturing generated 93 per cent of Singamas' turnover in the first half. The firm said its net profit increased 49 per cent to US$10.48 million for the first six months. Revenue was up 15 per cent to $235.86 million. It declared an interim dividend of four HK cents per share.