Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for March 11, 2011

*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: SPF lumber sales moderated after prices had firmed the week prior. Despite the downturn in demand, mills held prices. Firm pricing was indicative of mill positions in both the East and West. The rapid rise in freight rates and a sharp decline in truck availability kept large volumes of Southern Pine lumber tied up at mill sites for another week. A quiet week of sales activity did generate a number of spotty discounts on a variety of dimensions, despite the transportation issues. Most price adjustments in the Coastal species lumber market were higher, most often by $5 or less. Green prices reacted much like dry, with greater strength in the narrows. All Inland Hem-Fir widths from 2x6 through 2x12 #2&Btr are quieter, with the wides being especially flat. They retain the prices that they have shown for several weeks. Fir-Larch 2x4 #2&Btr is the leader of that species, adding another $5 to its price profile, as well. Ponderosa Pine lumber is tight, especially in the #2&Btr Shop. Mldg&Btr is firm at $1,325 and $1,350 for 5/4 and 6/4, respectively. Boards are most active in the retailer-oriented #2 Common, although Selects have begun to show some increased demand, as well. Idaho White Pine is still thinly produced, but another upcoming round of production creates some selling opportunities for mills. Eastern White Pine producers are seeing the cusp of spring enter the weather pattern, with an increase in retailer calls. Radiata Pine lumber availability remains tight, influencing the prices of both Mldg&Btr and Shop. Western Red Cedar sales at mills were no better or no worse than what has been the case over the previous several weeks. Customers were still not seeing the takeaways from their yards to prompt more buying from mills.

PANELS: Southern Pine plywood mills reported sales at a more pedestrian pace than the week prior, particularly for rated sheathing and underlayment items. Demand for specialty items remained strong, propelling prices of AC, BC and BBOES items higher. Modest amounts of Western Fir plywood trading continued to force producers to discount items in which production outpaced demand. Sales activity in the West remained dull. OSB buyers are taking a few modest volumes, but these are often purchased at wholesale levels and at discounts considerably below mill offerings. Canadian plywood remains a very quiet market, as it has been for some weeks. Particleboard and MDF price increases do appear to be on most producers' agendas, if they have not already been enacted.

Source: RISI's Crow's Weekly Market Report

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