Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for May 17, 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: The SPF lumber market failed to gain any traction. Sales activity either barely equaled or failed to keep up with production, depending on the mill. Traders pointed to a lack of exports to China as contributing to lower prices. The prolonged decline in futures continued to place a pall over the market. Buyers remained in control of the Southern Pine lumber market, continuing to look for the best deals with deep counters. Buyers rued contract volumes coming at them as prices continued to fall. Coastal species dry lumber prices remained weak. Traders often blamed imports out of Canada, in the form of Doug Fir and SPF, for seemingly abundant lumber supplies in U.S. markets. Activity for Inland species lumber started slowly but improved as the week progressed. Producers reported sales at close to published levels, although some discounting was still needed to move excess stock. Ponderosa Pine Shop prices continued to show signs of improvement. Much of the change is attributed to a shift from lack of supply to improved demand. The Ponderosa Pine board market continued to struggle to find a sustainable trading level, especially for upper grades. Idaho White Pine Sterling moved up, as did Standard 1x10 and 1x12. ESLP producers reported steady sales in all widths. Eastern White Pine producers also experienced steady sales, especially for Industrial. Western Red Cedar sales improved throughout the pipeline, some of those volumes telegraphing back to mills. Falling commodity lumber prices prompted some Canadian exporters to lament the potential return of export taxes.

Panels: OSB markets started out the week slowly but picked up a bit of momentum as the week progressed. Mill quotes were at published levels, and those mills with order files were firm or up slightly on their quotes. Moderately improved sales activity at the mill level kept Southern Pine plywood prices from falling to the degree they had the week prior. Order files remained thin. Producers reported greater numbers of inquiries, but sales volumes largely consisted of truckload volumes. While some Western Fir plywood producers boasted order files out into the last week of the month and even early June, others were forced to sell prompt shipping volumes at considerable discounts. Canadian plywood producers quoted at published levels for cash sales but admitted any reasonable offer would be considered. Distributors reported light but steady sales out of yards. Where higher particleboard and MDF prices are in play, buyers seemed more concerned with maintaining their share of mill output than they were with escalating prices.

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