Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Aug. 23, 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 mills remained in control, boasting order files in the first two weeks of September. Sales activity at the mill level was lackluster, but prices held with considerable firmness. Coastal species lumber producers reported a slower pace to the market, but also faced little pressure to sell off volumes at lower prices. Green Doug Fir 2x6 #2&Btr sold at levels $5 tp $10 higher. Timbers remained the highlight of the green Doug Fir market. Long lengths of dimension lumber sold in relatively strong volumes. Some Inland lumber producers have very little stock of either Hem-Fir or Fir-Larch with which to test the market. Potential buyers see the quietness as indicating potential weakness; hence, the basis for some negative talk. But quietness in this case does not mean weakness; it is simply a sign of thin availability. Production outpaced demand by a significant margin, forcing Southern Pine lumber prices lower for another week. Weather garnered much of the blame for quiet trading. Beyond weather, declining prices and continued caution kept buyers from purchasing. Scarce availability of Ponderosa Pine Selects and Commons has moderately increased demand for other western species. Not all species are as strong, but all have consistent activity, stable to firm price levels in most items and significant difficulties supplying certain popular items. No price changes of Moulding and Shop, in any key items have taken place this week, continuing the apparently firm and flat market for both lumber and mouldings. Western Red Cedar buyers continued to purchase on a steady basis. Board sales remained good, especially 1x8 through 1x12. Decking sales remained significantly better for some producers than others, with sales to big box stores still strong.

Panels: OSB mills, for their part, have definitely raised their numbers, ranging from $5 to $10, depending on the item. But distributors remain mired in an unyielding market and report prices little changed from last week, or even down slightly. Some Southern Pine plywood producers looked for sales more aggressively in order to bolster order files, prompting them to discount to attract buyers. Wholesalers took advantage of discounts, purchasing a little more volume than in past weeks. Prices in the Western Fir plywood market softened early and ended up lower by the week’s end. Although producers sensed lean inventories in the field, buyers perceived that more than enough production was being utilized to cover buyers’ needs. Canadian plywood is quiet at the mill level, but strong signs of life come from distribution-level sites and from dealers. Any changes on the demand side of either particleboard or MDF markets were negligible. Mills reported sales volumes within a narrow range of prior weeks, leading to a number of contacts describing the market, in general terms, as “steady.”

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