Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Dec. 13, 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: By midweek, SPF lumber availability for 2013 was considerably less than when the week began. Producers discounted early. Strong gains in futures helped spark the market Tuesday, leading to a price bounce. Southern Pine lumber demand remained lackluster, lending to weak #2 pricing. Winter storms across much of the eastern half of the U.S. kept consumption to a minimum, while log supplies were substantial enough to keep mills running. Buyers continued to hold out of the Coastal species lumber market, particularly early in the week, forcing more discounts. Year-end shutdowns at mills were one reason buyers did participate when necessary, wanting to have orders on hand. Despite limited offerings, Inland species lumber producers were unable to keep prices from coming off. Many buyers were on the sidelines. With order files into January in some cases, some producers were content to let the year end on a quiet note. Offerings of Radiata Pine Shop and Mldg&Btr were light and sold readily at published levels. Ponderosa Pine producers reported continued strong sales of 5/4 #2 Shop to window manufactures and cut stock plants. A few Ponderosa Pine board buyers decided to put their P.O. books away, while others continued to search for coverage. The bulk of activity remained focused on #2&Btr narrows. Limited offerings of Idaho White Pine helped moved prices up on both Sterling and Standard grades. The largest lake-effect snowstorm in the U.S. this year hit the Upper Midwest and Northeast at mid-week, which stifled Western Red Cedar consumption in those regions. Producers continued to reiterate the potential for higher prices this spring, due to less log availability and higher costs.

Panels: The OSB market started off on a quiet note and by mid-week was showing signs of vulnerability. Attempts by buyers to counter deeply were mostly unsuccessful. Some producers were, however, open to small discounts that helped them move their order files out into January. Southern Pine plywood mills adjusted prices moderately early to sell more carload volumes in the week of Dec. 16. As the week progressed, good demand allowed producers to firm prices back to prior levels and focus on selling the remainder of the year’s production. Western Fir plywood mills lower quotes early to stir up some business and nudged them higher after selling enough volume to move order files deeper into December. Reports of sales into the Midwest and East varied. Those not selling much into those regions cited winter weather as a reason for their lack of demand. Even though temperatures dropped and snow fell in many areas, distributors of Canadian plywood reported light but steady sales out of yards. Buyers who thought they had enough wood purchased found they might need a bit more. Evidence that early 2014 business in particleboard and MDF markets would improve compared to late 2013 continued to appear.

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