Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for March 8, 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: Sales activity in the western SPF lumber market slowed compared to the spurt in sales occurring at the end of the previous week. Low grade items remained tight, continuing to place upward pressure on those prices. Discounts were more prevalent in Southern Pine dimension lumber, as inventories for some items grew at mills. Due in part to weather, buyers perceived greater potential for lower prices and, subsequently, stayed on the sidelines or purchased sparingly. Coastal species lumber sales picked up more steam toward the week's end, propelling most prices moderately higher. Buyers once again looked beyond high prices, entering the market to fill inventories worn thin from takeaways. A strong futures market added to an already upbeat Inland species lumber market. With light supplies in the hands of producers and mill order files into late March for some items, buyers turned to wholesalers to cover more immediate needs. Radiata Pine remained in tight supply. A small amount of open market sales of Mldg&Btr 6/4 were reported at higher prices. Ponderosa Pine producers reported a better tone to the market in regards to Moulding and Shop grades, with some saying they garnered a few dollars more for their products. Buyers of Ponderosa Pine boards found themselves making many calls to cover their needs. Sales made were at considerably higher prices than a week ago. Eastern White Pine mills reported steady business in spite of heavy snows in many of their buying regions. Sales activity in the Western Red Cedar market was slow. Market mavens noted several reasons for the sluggish pace, none more prominent than the amount of snow blanketing the Midwest and eastern states.

Panels: Market activity for OSB was predominately between secondaries and their customers. Producers with good order files waited on the sidelines, moving the occasional extra load quietly and quickly, with little fanfare. Sales activity for Southern Pine plywood producers was slow to moderate early and then increased from there. Having sold off previous positions, some wholesalers reentered the market. Sales in the Western Fir plywood market were "mediocre." An uptick in sales occurred Friday, but did little to stabilize prices that were discounted throughout the week. Mills did accept lower offers from buyers early. The Canadian plywood market has became two tiered. A majority of business was done in the secondary market. Mills took a few orders at discounts. MDF sales remained strong and particleboard activity continued to show signs of improvement. Producers and buyers were both optimistic about the immediate future. Particleboard sales in the West lagged.

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