Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for March 1, 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: Mill sales in the SPF lumber market were slow for most of the week, in part due to secondaries selling at considerably lower price levels. A pickup in sales late Thursday, on the coattails of strong futures gains, generated higher prices. A quieter pace to the Southern Pine lumber market led to fewer price increases than in previous weeks. Some wide-width prices still had upward momentum, depending on the zone, while narrows flattened. Demand in the Coastal species lumber notched lower, but most prices remained firm. Sales to the Midwest became even more difficult, as snows continued to fall in that region. Most producers of Inland species lumber had little in the way of offerings to present to prospective buyers. Most mill order files were out beyond the comfort levels of most buyers. Buyers found prices to be firm or up slightly and tally selection often limited. A few offerings of Radiata Pine 6/4 Shop were presented to “test the waters.” The open market offerings quickly sold. Activity for Ponderosa Pine improved but prices were unchanged except for 6/4 #3 Shop and P99. The Ponderosa Pine board market continued to strengthen, albeit on light sales volumes. Long order files kept mills off the market or pricing defensively. Sales activity for ESLP boards was focused on low grades. Winter weather slowed sales of Eastern White Pine. Tight supplies continued to dominate the Western Red Cedar market, leaving little in the way of extra volumes available for shipment in March. Limited availability prompted some producers to nudge prices yet higher, but the consensus was to maintain current pricing and wait to see what happens in the spring.

Panels: OSB producers with mill order files out a couple of weeks did not seem concerned with the quietness of the market. The bulk of sales reported were from secondaries selling off contract wood or previous purchases. Southern Pine plywood producers reported limited sales. Order files in the week of March 18 were most common. Buyers continued to look to wholesalers for quicker shipping volumes. Western Fir plywood mills carrying little order file were forced to sell off volumes at discounts. Even some with order files out into the middle of March padded those files by discounting. As order files have lessened, Canadian plywood producers have opened discussions with buyers seeking a level that will work. A certain amount of indecision still exists, with both producers and buyers unsure what of the level. Particleboard mills in the Southeast passed price increases onto customers purchasing for shipments in the first week of March. MDF sale remained strong.

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