Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for March 18, 2011

*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: Asia again stirred up the SPF market, but as of Thursday its influence did little to generate any strength in pricing. Toronto buyers were offered discounts of $15 to $20 in some instances, while discounts into the states were usually of the single-digit variety. Southern Pine lumber buyers tended to purchase conservatively while prices faded, sensing a greater buying opportunity as the month and quarter comes to a close. Single-digit price declines were most common across all zones, with all dimensions exhibiting weakness. Narrow width pricing in both coastal dry Hem-Fir and Doug Fir maintained their upward trajectory despite only moderate sales levels. Demand for green Doug Fir lagged in the West, with Southern California participation limited. Prices of all Inland species lumber products have been firm, with a slight upward force to them. Ponderosa Pine #2&Btr Shop remains tight enough to keep prices rising. However, #3 Shop is still available in sufficient volume to keep that price stable. The retail industry is gearing up, and all widths of #2 Common have firmed, especially 1x12. Eastern White Pine producers are feeling the pressure of increased inquiry, creating stronger prices in both Premium and Standard grades. Radiata Pine has become more and more questionable with regard to supply, but it is clearly strengthening. Western Red Cedar buyers purchased hand-to-mouth, despite the likelihood of improving weather gradually increasing consumption throughout the country.

PANELS: Sales of Western Fir plywood picked up on Wednesday and caught some buyers off guard. Market levels for CDX items ended the week up $10 to $20 in most instances. Southern Pine plywood producers sold significant volumes of an array of products, positively influencing prices and extending order files for a few items out into the first full week of April. Rated sheathing price increases were held back somewhat by the lack of order file producers began the week with. The OSB market has provided a good bit of confusion for both buyers and producers these last several days. In most regions of the continent, at least some price gains have been recorded, with the result that the tone and attitudes among distributors have improved considerably. Canadian plywood has been looking for a catalyst for some weeks, and it appears that this week provided that. Wholesalers positioned themselves to be ready for better demand, placing orders in some volume and boosting mill files into April in most instances. Some price increase did occur in the Coastal region this session. Otherwise, prices on both particleboard and MDF held "firm and very stable."

Source: RISI's Crow's Weekly Market Report

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