Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for June 28, 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: SPF lumber producers entered the week offering significant discounts, but Wednesday, increased buying activity generated firmer quotes. One producer’s third-quarter sales to China were given credit for the increased buying, as traders covered shorts and purchased a little extra. The slow turnaround in the Southern Pine lumber market continued, as more producers sought higher prices for more items. After ridding themselves of higher priced inventory, treaters purchased substantial volumes. East zone mills struggled more than those in the Central and West regions to sell dimension lumber at higher prices. Volumes sold in the Coastal species lumber market improved, helping to both limit discounts and propel a few prices higher. Production curtailments helped apply the brakes to additional supplies entering the market. Inland species lumber demand from retailers has brightened a little, helping prices to firm up. Improvements in demand for Spruce lumber, combined with gains in lumber futures, have restored some of the optimism of the market. Some cracks began to show up in Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr lumber, but shop prices held up better. More Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr volumes are available than in past weeks, and some discounts are being accepted by producers. Ponderosa Pine 1x4 and 1x8 #2 boards are weak, as are 1x6 and 1x8 #3. Selects are very stable and of modest interest among buyers. Wide widths overall are less subject to price erosion, with the exception of ESLP 1x12 #3, which is weak. Western Red Cedar producers generally experienced steady to improved sales activity. Buyers located in the Midwest participated in greater numbers, giving mills more orders than in prior weeks.

Panels: Despite the fact that OSB prices have plunged sharply over the last several weeks, the price declines are not yet over. Eastern Canada, which has been largely shielded from the heaviest price decreases, is now seeing some real pullbacks in price. Moderately improved sales activity at midweek allowed Southern Pine plywood producers to raise quotes off discounts used early to sell prompt shipping volumes. Still, most prices ended lower than the prior week’s levels. Sales were strong enough in the Western Fir plywood market to dry up most of the sheathing discounts and raise some quotes above the prior week’s price levels. Canadian softwood plywood firmed nicely as this week progressed. Buyers who reported being able to secure wood at discounted levels early in the week were rebuffed by mills on Thursday. Having drawn inventories down prior to the end of the quarter, yards increased their volumes purchased. Prices remained steady in the particleboard market. Order files for particleboard in the East were as extended as producers wanted them, in some instances out into August. MDF prices held firm, as buyers continued to absorb all production.

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