Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Jan. 17, 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: Unlike the week prior, no sharp gains in lumber futures appeared by Thursday to spur buying in the SPF lumber market. Instead, trading activity was modest, which left most #2&Btr prices flat in the West. Price increases in Canadian markets were partially due to a weakening Canadian dollar. Stud prices were strong. Southern Pine lumber mills continued to press prices higher. Texas absorbed significant volumes. Secondaries began looking at escalating prices with greater caution. Producers reported better export sales to Mexico and other destinations. Mills continued to sell Coastal species lumber at a steady pace. California remained active. Demand from local yards also contributed strongly to sales. Solid, consistent volumes intended for China absorbed production. The Inland species lumber market started the week on a quiet pace, with more phone calls for shipment status rather than sales inquiries. By midweek the pace had improved and callers looked for wood. A few sales people reported an increase in phone calls from customers looking for Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr. The Ponderosa Pine Shop market remained active, as window and door manufacturers and cut stock plants continued to look for bargains and quick shipments. Most were unsuccessful, as mill inventories were light and prices were up. Some producers were oversold and unable to quote. The focus in Ponderosa Pine boards seems to have shifted from #2&Btr to #3 Common. Producers reported a quieter pace to #2&Btr and some softness in wider widths. ESLP producers reported steady sales and firm pricing. Eastern White Pine sales were steady. Mill order files out several weeks helped keep prices firm or up on a few items. Most Western Red Cedar prices were unchanged, but those adjusted did so to higher levels. Producers in the U.S. again cited rising log prices as a probable market driver in the coming months.

Panels: Activity in the OSB markets was described by one trader as uneventful and lackluster by another. Producers with order files from one to three weeks out were content to hold to their list prices. Buyers admitted they needed to buy more wood. Whenever possible, Southern Pine plywood customers stayed on the sidelines, sensing an opportunity in a struggling market. Those that did need to purchase rated sheathing usually did so at negotiated levels. Western Fir plywood producers wanting to reestablish an order file did so at a steep cost, discounting CDX items considerably in some instances. Others held quotes and declined to discount down to market levels, citing production costs that exceeded market prices. Canadian plywood producers reported another quiet week for sales. National distribution chain buyers concentrated on contract loads and did little cash market business. Mills indicated the bulk of their business was done with regional buyers and retail yards. Particleboard producers experienced notably improved sales volumes. MDF sales were lackluster.

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