Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for May 23, 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 activity in the SPF dimension lumber market was lackluster, but few prices suffered from downward pressure. Order files, helped by mills basing some of their lead times on railcar supplies, helped buoy prices. Declining futures contracts left buyers cautious. Recent pricing trends persisted in Southern Pine #2 dimension pricing. While most prices continued to increase, 2x6 #2 remained weak. Distribution yards reported strong sales, as late mill shipments forced dealers to look elsewhere in order to fill inventory holes. Demand for dry Coastal species dimension slowed, but mills felt little pressure to lower prices. Green Doug Fir dimension prices continued to show weakness in narrow widths. The Inland species lumber market remained on solid ground. Mill order files out two weeks or more and continued steady demand kept prices firm or moving up. Western Red Cedar producers of often noted a somewhat “settled” pace to market activity. Business was steady but also a bit flat, in the words of some. Others noted a more active pace. Any pressure on prices was upward. Radiata Pine producers reported booking most of their June business at close to published levels. Buyers were willing to pay current Mldg&Btr asking levels, and #2Shop sold steadily. Ponderosa Pine Moulding and Shop prices were unchanged. Steady but light sales and mill order files of several weeks kept prices on firm ground. The slow sales pace for Ponderosa Pine boards had some producers wondering if the long holiday weekend had not already started. Light sales but firm prices were also reported for Sugar Pine. Eastern White Pine mills reported steady demand for Standard and Industrial grades. A “solid week of sales” was reported by ESLP producers.

Panels: OSB producers reported a quiet market with very light sales volumes. They also reported order files out several weeks and prices close to published levels. Secondaries, however, painted a picture of market prices $20 to $25 below mill replacement costs. Moderate to slow sales placed downward pressure on Southern Pine rated sheathing prices, particularly on thicker panels in the East and West zones. Wholesalers purchased little volume in the open market, instead focusing on selling off the remainder of their positions and contract volumes. Order files continued to erode in the Western Fir plywood market, prompting some producers to lower prices and pushing others closer to the brink. Volumes remained in the hands of secondaries, which kept a two-tiered market in place. Most Canadian plywood buyers feel the market is firm, but a few are still making offers to mills that involve discounts. Mills report turning down those offers. Producers are reporting good business at, or a point above, published levels for CSP and an additional point higher for DFP. Most particleboard producers continued to preserve order files heading into the long Memorial Day weekend. In the West, some customers continued to work off inventories, slowing mill sales for some producers. MDF sales were mixed.

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