A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Dec. 17, 2010
*Western - regional species perimeter foundation; Southern - regional species slab construction.
Crow's Market Recap -- A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow's Weekly Market Report.
LUMBER: Limited availability and up moves in futures at midweek prompted U.S. buyers to enter the SPF market in greater numbers on Wednesday. Mill order files supplemented by volumes intended for China pushed availability for U.S. buyers out into January. Frigid temperatures throughout much of the week influenced Southern Pine end-use, buying and production. Holiday shutdowns to varying degrees also promised to limit supplies for the remainder of the year. Limited inventories in the Coastal Species lumber distribution chain and finite supplies available to domestic customers provided the backdrop for increased buying beginning on Wednesday. Narrow lumber in Inland Species continues to be "still firming," according to one key source. Fir-Larch might not be moving strongly, but both Hem-Fir and ESLP reflect the effects of upward price pressure. Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr remains unchanged at established levels, but it has been pretty well cleaned up by major users. The crux of demand among Ponderosa users is #2&Btr Shop. Radiata Pine continues to struggle with producers' rejection of the U.S. market. Ponderosa Pine #2 Common leads the western market. All #3 Common items are reasonably firm and #4 Common is strong, as it has been, selling well as it accumulates. Idaho White Pine, produced in modest volumes, shows clear signs of competitive erosion in Sterling widths. Eastern White Pine Premium is remarkable for its breadth in price spreads, while Standard continues to be decent for most producers. Gains and losses in market share by individual Western Red Cedar producers heading into the new year made it difficult to gauge whether first-quarter orders and volumes outnumbered last year's.
PANELS: Southern Pine plywood producers reported a quiet week of sales activity. "I could have went home at noon every day this week," said one producer. While buyers exhibited a lack of interest in the market, so too was the approach of producers toward pricing. High log costs and prices for veneer continued to bolster Western Fir plywood prices despite a sluggish sales pace. The sense of stagnancy in OSB markets has deepened this week, except for eastern Canada. Much of the industry is on hold, thinking that the market could edge up a little in January. The Canadian plywood market has certainly been quiet, with demand at the mill level reduced to a trickle. Nonetheless, producers consider it a good time to remain solid in their prices. Prices of both particleboard and MDF are relatively stable. For some producers, the last two weeks of November and the first two weeks of December have been the best in several months.
Source: RISI's Crow's Weekly Market Report
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