Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for June 6, 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 in the SPF lumber market was sluggish, except for a flurry of activity on Wednesday. Western producers lowered prices early, and buyers participated in greater numbers at midweek, covering shorts and purchasing cautiously long. Slower sales activity generated a bit more weakness in the Southern Pine lumber market, but mills rarely took desperate measures to sell volumes – except in 2x6. Lower prices of that item did attract buyers to purchase significant volumes and clean up some floor stocks at mills. As in other lumber markets, prices in Coastal species continued to weaken. Mill sales were slow, overwhelming any minor pickup in demand they experienced for a brief period at midweek. Inland lumber species continued to show weakness in the Std&Btr/#2&Btr widths, giving little indication that a floor was imminent. Prices of the narrow widths were most vulnerable, although general weakness was reported in all widths. Radiata Pine industrials are in good balance, as they have been for some time. Chile is sending more millwork to the U.S., but it has protected its lumber prices by tightly controlling the volume of lumber it sends to the U.S. Ponderosa Pine #3 Shop remains stable in price, but enough of it is available to question its overall strength. Most producers of Ponderosa Pine 4/4 boards report, “Boards are a decent market.” Some are a little more optimistic, calling the market “good.” Eastern White Pine has been gradually improving. The same applies to Mldg&Btr. Inland Cedar is active, with #4 Common price increases being promoted aggressively by some producers. Western Red Cedar producers seemed more content with price levels, limiting any increases. Buyers called producers often to check on orders, indicating an urgency for those volumes.

Panels: Price adjustments continued to be a part of this week’s OSB action. This was the case at both mill and wholesale levels. Wholesalers who own wood are trying hard to scrub it, finding that difficult in the face of a falling market. Southern Pine rated sheathing demand remained a notch below production, leaving those prices weak. Producers managed to sell volumes into the week of June 16, but scattered, quicker shipping volumes remained available. The pace in the Western Fir plywood market picked up as early as Wednesday, continued through Thursday and into Friday morning. Producers bumped up CDX quotes Thursday after approaching the market with discounts early and drawing some buyers in. Canadian plywood continues to be a matter of species and specific product, with regard to prices. The strongest single item is Fir Select plywood, which is very tight on the supply side and generally bringing a premium where it is available. Some particleboard producers reported a slow start to the week, but sales activity picked up as the week progressed, enabling them to sell production. MDF sales remained disappointing. Mills again struggled to sell production, and some discounted volumes remained available.

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