Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for April 18, 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: Declining futures contracts throughout much of the week limited buyers’ confidence in the SPF lumber market. Traders continued to point to excess volumes at mills, in part due to railcar shortages, as a major influence on their approach to the market. Discounts for Southern Pine dimension lumber were less severe than in previous weeks, especially in the East, where discounts rarely dipped below $5. The deepest cuts remained in narrow dimensions, as small log output of 2x4 and 2x6 continued to outpace demand. Decent follow through from the previous week in the Coastal species lumber market allowed producers to maintain price levels for most dry items and raise narrow widths in green Doug Fir more than any other items. Buyer participation in the Inland market was limited early, and most sales were made with some concessions. By midweek, mills were less inclined to deal, and by week’s end, prices were back close to previous asking levels. Availability of Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr remained tight, with few excess loads being offered. Inland mills cutting Ponderosa Pine reported little trouble moving off their Shop production. Ponderosa Pine board producers reported a steady market for #3 Commons, with gradual increases in prices. Although not as strong as #3, activity for #2&Btr improved also. Sales of ESLP #3 followed in the footsteps of Ponderosa Pine, with steady sales and prices moving up on 1x6, 1x8 and 1x10. Solid sales of Idaho White Pine Standard grade were reported. Discussions regarding the extent of Western Red Cedar sales activity during the peak buying season emerged, as that time is now widely perceived to have arrived. Various retailers and distributors suggested they are a month to six weeks behind their normal sales pace. 

Panels: Inquiries and sales increased in many of the OSB trading regions. Traders reported discounts at mills early in the week, but mills soon shifted into a more steadfast posture, as mill order files extended and excess inventories were reduced. Southern Pine plywood producers experienced enough follow through from the prior week’s increase in demand to nudge rated sheathing prices higher. Although availability remained in the week of April 28, lead times for the most significant volumes eased into the week of May 5. Most Western Fir plywood producers reported a slower sales pace than the end of the prior week, as carload demand faded. Producers with higher quotes generally tried to sell as much as possible into western markets in truckload volumes. A shortened holiday week and continuing winter weather were both cited as reasons for a slow market for Canadian plywood. While distribution yards in some eastern regions reported business as “brisk,” producers did not see much follow-through in the form of purchases. Particleboard producers reported another good week of sales. MDF imports and North American production combined to make supplies readily available for customers.

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