Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Aug. 16, 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 trading activity increased following word of the export sale, which helped extend mill order files out in the first days of September. Futures reacted to the sale and gained early. Southern Pine lumber producers sought to sell more volumes at lower prices due to a lack of demand from customers. Again, mills on the Westside showed greater urgency than those further east. Buyers took advantage of deals but did not purchase abundant volumes at the lower levels. Decent sales volumes kept price levels steady or edging higher in the Coastal species lumber market. Buyers continued to purchase enough fill-in volumes to allow mills to sell the week’s production or more. Inland lumber prices continue to strengthen, based on lack of production and low inventories at both mill and distribution levels. Hem-Fir is even tighter than Fir-Larch, as reflected in price levels. Ponderosa Pine mills struggle to produce sufficient wide boards to meet customer needs. This means that all 1x6 through 1x12 #2&Btr boards are in good demand. Industrial lumber is little changed from last week. Prices are stable, and the overall pace of business remains good. Eastern White Pine boards continue to enjoy a solid and stable market, with prices holding unchanged this week. Western Red Cedar buyers continued to purchase relatively strong volumes from mills, filling in inventories where needed. Canadian producers showed little resistance to the fact they would continue paying a duty in September.

Panels: A clearly two-tiered market has deeply divided the OSB market across the continent. Some of that was erased at discounts this week, especially in the West and in western Canada. Establishing selling levels for this market segment shows discounts of up to $35, depending on the item. Southern Pine plywood demand appeared to improve in the latter half of the week. Most prices held steady, with higher quotes and subsequent sales at those levels tending to press a few prices a couple of dollars higher. Early quotes in the Western Fir Plywood market edged higher a few dollars and some success was achieved at those levels. By the end of the week, sales activity slowed and mills looked to sell a few items at lower prices, especially CDX 1/2-in. 4 ply. Canadian plywood is not showing any signs of weakness, and the price remains unchanged from its previously published level. Other than the few spotty changes mills made to a few accounts, particleboard and MDF prices held. Demand remained typical of August, highlighted by indications that demand is improving slightly and anticipation that September demand should improve to some degree.

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