Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for April 15, 2011

*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: Other than a brief blip Wednesday, in which wholesalers covered shorts on the back of a strong upward futures move, SPF sales activity at mills was dull and prices fell. With Southern Pine lumber prices trending lower and aiming at the historical lows posted in October last year, producers were more firm with quotes. Sales activity among Coastal Species was quiet again for yet another week, putting pressure on producers to hold quotes or curtail production due to high log costs. Falling SPF prices also placed greater downward pressure on Hem-Fir. Inland producers experienced a week of fairly steady sales and prices that slid between narrow spreads but generally held close to previous marks. The clash between weak U.S. demand and global alternatives continues to erode the supply base for both Radiata Pine lumber and imported finger joint mouldings. Ponderosa Pine boards remain best in #2 Common, although price increases seem for the moment to have abated. All items in #2 Common except 1x4 show good firmness; 1x4 remains questionable. Idaho White Pine prices remain at established levels, most of the production of the current run having been sold well in advance of its projected finishing date. Eastern White Pine is more active than it has been, but without any strong energy. Improved weather has helped this species, as has the reduction of available supplies of western species. Some modest increases in U.S. demand for Western Red Cedar were noted, but they were minor. Signs that customers in the Northeast and upper Midwest were more open to talking about buying, if not yet pulling the trigger, were a positive.

PANELS: Continued slow sales placed downward pressure on Western Fir plywood prices, as order files ran thin. Even quotes $20 below the prior week's levels for CDX items attracted little attention from buyers. Demand for Southern Pine plywood was minimal, leaving producers' rated sheathing prices negotiable or teetering on the end of order files still mired in the week of April 18. Although no clear floors were established in OSB prices, producers turned away the lowest of the counters they saw, even though most of them need orders. Even at that, some significant discounts took place. Canadian plywood shows some wide positional gaps among producers. Some have sales through May, while others are discounting. Particleboard and MDF markets are experiencing extremely low demand, which causes producers to scrap for every order and dip to very deeply discounted levels in order to write business.

Source: RISI's Crow's Weekly Market Report

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