Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Feb. 28, 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: Trading was light in the SPF lumber market, prompting those secondaries needing to move volumes from mills to lower prices in search of takers. Flat pricing at the mill level generated a two-tiered market. Steady sales established firmer #2 pricing in the Southern Pine lumber market. Big box outlets accepted larger volumes of both bright and treated lumber, beginning to stock up for the spring buying season. Mills reported steady to improved buying activity in the Coastal species lumber market as the week progressed, firming some prices and propelling even more moderately higher. Although heavy rains in Southern California kept many of those buyers out of the green Doug Fir market, loaded railcars in transit, often seen at month-end, were conspicuously absent. Market direction in the Inland species lumber market was divided by both location and products. Regions with heavy winter weather were quiet and those buyers only made purchases as their needs dictated. Radiata Pine sales were light for both Shop grades, as well as Mldg&Btr. Order files out to the end of March or further kept prices firm. The market for Ponderosa Pine boards was one of lack of supply as well as a need for low grade. The strength was mostly in the lower grades, with 1x4 and 1x6 #3 the leaders. Producers reported steady sales of #3 to furniture manufactures, as well as some export sales. Sales for ESLP were light, and prices remained firm but unchanged for most items. Eastern White Pine producers continued to struggle with cold temperatures and heavy snows, but most were able to keep mills running. The Western Red Cedar market continued to wait on better weather and a subsequent increase in activity throughout distribution channels.

Panels: Continued winter weather in the northern regions along with the threat of winter weather in the South, kept OSB buyers cautious about making too many purchases. Wholesalers reported light but steady business in most regions. Although some Southern Pine plywood producers reported slightly less buying activity than in the previous couple of weeks, overall demand was generally steady. Order files stretched into the week of March 17, or March 10, and most rated sheathing prices edged a few dollars higher. Western Fir plywood sales slowed at the mill level, leaving order files in the week of March 10. Weather continued to play a key role in limiting consumption. Canadian plywood producers reached a point where they had to entertain discounts on selected items. Once enough sales were written to take pressure off the mills, discounts went away. Particleboard and MDF producers reported steady sales, selling close to production for the week. Railcar shortages created problems for shippers and their customers. Prices for both MDF and particleboard held at prior levels.

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