Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Oct. 11, 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 in the West negotiated pricing on some items, as eroding order files began to reach a critical juncture. Mills were more open to negotiating straight lengths while maintaining random tally price levels. Weakening prices led to a cautious approach from customers. Price weakness continued to expand and grow deeper in the Southern Pine lumber market. Mills opened with deeper discounts and accepted counters below those lower quotes. Dealers kept inventories low by purchasing mixed truckload and LTL volumes from distributors. Moderate sales activity in the Coastal species lumber market allowed producers to hold onto the same prices they entered the week at or push them moderately higher in most instances. A tone that in the Inland lumber market was described as “quiet” early in the week seemed to have perked up a bit by week’s end. Buyers looking for quicker shipments turned to secondaries to cover their needs. A lull in business was reported for Radiata Pine lumber in both moulding and Shop grades. Door and window manufactures continued to be the driving force in the Ponderosa Pine #2 Shop market. Steady inquiries kept mill sales people busy, trying to turn the inquiries into orders. The strongest demand in Ponderosa Pine boards has been for #2&Btr, particularly 1x12, although 6” and wider #2&Btr experienced good inquiry and sales as well. Eastern White Pine producers reported continued steady sales and firm pricing. California mills reported strong sales activity for Sugar Pine #2&Btr. Buyers of Western Red Cedar products continued to purchase needs in smaller volumes. Prices overall continued to hold at the same levels, with little upward or downward pressure.

Panels: OSB buyers’ focus again turned from producers to secondaries for coverage. Mill order files, some into November, kept producers in control of the market in most regions. Northern and western producers lost orders to southern producers who were quoting $10-20 less to western destinations. The Southern Pine plywood market continued to plod along at a pace strong enough to propel mill order files into the week of October 21. It did not have enough momentum to push prices any higher, and in some cases, discounts appeared. Western Fir plywood mills negotiated CDX prices to keep volumes flowing. Producers remained optimistic that ongoing sales at yards and light field inventories could limit the current downward cycle. As the long Thanksgiving holiday rolls around in Canada, Canadian plywood markets remain quiet. Producers report sales quieted as the week came to close. Many people left their desks early on Friday in order to start the long weekend early. Some mills continued to come up shy when it came to selling a week’s worth of particleboard production. Buyers of MDF reported discounts.

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