Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Jan. 25, 2013

*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: Trading was light in the SPF lumber market, and with the disappearance of order files at mills, prices weakened considerably. Futures remained at a considerable discount to the cash market. Few wholesalers showed interest in purchasing at the lower price levels. Sensing market prices could take a turn, Southern Pine lumber buyers held off purchases when possible. Out of all the dimensions across zones, 2x6 #2 on the Westside stood out as the item most commonly discounted. Most other prices showed modest to moderate increases. Sales activity was sluggish in the Coastal species lumber market, leaving prices vulnerable to discounts. Wintery weather in the Upper Midwest and Northeast was blamed for some of the market inactivity. Inland species lumber producers had good order files, some out a couple of weeks, which strengthened their resolve to hold prices. Buyers often turned to secondaries for needs. Limited availability of Radiata Pine, along with light demand, made for an uneventful market. The market for Ponderosa Pine Moulding and Shop lumber was quiet but steady. Production and demand remained close to parity, and prices remained firm and unchanged. The Ponderosa Pine board market showed signs of improvement. Producers were able to move prices up. Inquiry was better for most items. Eastern White Pine producers reported steady business and firm prices. Exceptions were 1x6 and 1x8 Standard. Western Red Cedar producers often took care of their core customers, having little in the way of extra volumes for other buyers looking for coverage. Mills maintained previous prices or raised them minimally.

Panels: The two-tiered OSB market that began to show itself clearly last week has become more defined. The distance between mills, which were generally trying to hold their numbers, and secondaries, who struggled to sell contracts, has widened. Many Southern Pine plywood buyers put away their P.O. books, content with volumes they had already purchased and sensing the potential for lower prices. Riding order files, mills held quotes for the most part. Buyers exhibited little interest in purchasing Western Fir plywood volumes from mills while seeing prices begin to weaken. They did turn to secondaries, however, who did sell volumes at $20 to $30 discounts to mill quotes. Weather conditions across most of Canada have stymied mill-level Canadian plywood sales and fostered a few rumors of price cuts. Mills, however, are not inclined to move at the whim of rumors, especially with the WRLA meeting in progress in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The tone in particleboard and MDF markets was one of steady or improving market activity. MDF availability remained extremely tight. 

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