Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Jan. 3, 2014

*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: The sales pace in the SPF market was slow, but mill lead times extending into the middle of January left prices firm. Cold weather in the Midwest and Northeast kept empty railcars from returning to mills in a timely fashion. The week was marked by several downward moves in futures. Sales activity in the Southern Pine lumber market was lackluster, but order files extending into the middle of the month for items such as 2x6 #2 contributed to higher prices. Distribution yards reported slower sales, pointing to the holidays for the downturn. Coastal species lumber producers often described sales as “steady,” which kept demand for some items out ahead of supplies. Yards continued to maintain conservative inventories. Mills started back up after curtailing production during the holidays. Inland species lumber producers reported scattered sales on the first sales day of the new year. Prices for dimension lumber were at or slightly above published levels. Producers of Ponderosa Pine Shop grades reported fielding calls from customers who were either checking on shipment times of previous purchases or wanting to know the availability of stock for January. Finding trucks over the holidays for orders called ready was difficult. Sales of Ponderosa Pine boards were light, and prices were mostly unchanged. Some producers had little in the way of offerings and did not plan on much in the near future. A large number of participants in the Western Red Cedar market returned to their desks late in the week after extended vacations to find out they did not miss much in the way of sales activity. Producers reported transportation issues related to weather.

Panels: OSB producers held firm on higher prices or were off the market. Many buyers remained out of their offices or on the sidelines. The sales reported were close to mill asking levels. Prices in western markets moved up while eastern prices held close to published levels. Considering weather conditions in northern markets and the number of customers taking extended holidays and not returning to their desks until Thursday, traders in the Southern Pine plywood market seemed satisfied with volumes sold. Mill order files often extended into the week of Jan. 13, with minor volumes available in the week of Jan. 6. Little urgency was generated among either buyers or producers in the Western Fir plywood market. Sluggish sales activity and reduced production over the holidays combined to keep price levels steady. Producers pointed to rising log and veneer prices as helping to hold up prices. Sales activity for Canadian plywood was subdued. Producers reported a few sales at published levels but most buyers were content to sit out the market. An air of optimism and subsequent anticipation of improving sales for particleboard and MDF in January eclipsed the slow week of sales producers experienced.

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