Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for May 2, 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: SPF mills reported order files of a couple of weeks while continuing to sell off floor stocks. Western SPF lumber producers pressed market prices a few dollars higher throughout the week, often by decreasing discounts. Weather and persistently scarce truck availability played key roles in the Southern Pine lumber market. Torrential rain not only limited consumption in the East, it also created log shortages, forcing mill shutdowns. According to most sources, the number of trucks available to haul lumber constricted even more. Dry Coastal species lumber prices continued to trend higher, as steady demand met or exceeded production levels. Green Doug Fir pricing sagged early, but sales improved after midweek. Improving weather, as well as improving attitudes about the market, helped Inland species lumber producers move order files out and prices up. Wholesalers reported steady back-to-back business. Radiata Pine sellers report steady sales for Mldg&Btr at or above published levels. Offerings of Shop grades were not heard. Discounts for Ponderosa Pine #3 Shop reported last week seemed to have dried up. Mill quotes are at, or slightly above, published levels. Other prices were unchanged, as most producers have booked their May orders. The Ponderosa Pine board market for Selects and Commons has been led by #3 and #4 Shop, followed a good distance behind by #2&Btr. Eastern White Pine producers reported “steady” business, with prices firm but mostly unchanged. The weakness in prices anticipated by some has not occurred. Buyers purchased persistent volumes of Western Red Cedar after generating inventory holes, often finding their replacement costs higher. Some producers voiced concerns over the higher prices, fearing the loss of market share to alternative products.

Panels: Sales activity for OSB increased substantially in many regions. Producers reported heavy phone activity, with callers asking about orders they already had on the books, as well as prices for additional products. Eastern Canada was a much quieter market. Southern Pine rated sheathing prices surpassed their previous highs for the year by significant margins, as buyers replenished inventories. Most mill order files extended into the week of May 26. Strong engineered wood product demand for veneer and panels harnessed the overall plywood supply available to the general market. Strong sales activity in the Western Fir plywood market prompted producers to raise prices aggressively. Buyers approached the market a bit more cautiously late in the week. The week started with most markets for Canadian plywood on the quiet side. Prices were vulnerable and showed signs of weakness. By the second half of the week, activity had improved and producers reported extending mill order files out a few weeks. Particleboard mills in the West experienced demand that kept up with production, but not much more than that. Prices held but still carried some upward pressure. MDF sales remained lackluster, but mills sales kept up with production overall. MDF prices remained stagnant.

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