Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Aug. 8, 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: Gains in futures throughout the early week reached a crescendo on Thursday, sending SPF lumber buyers back into the market to replenish. Wholesalers participated early, contributing to the midweek pace by trying to cover shorts. Buyers entered the Southern Pine lumber market in greater numbers and purchased significant volumes, helping to firm wide width #2 pricing and propel 2x4 and 2x6 #2 again higher. Suppliers raved about strong demand from the truss manufacturing segment. Most often cited as the reason for an uptick in sales activity, an up-limit gain in futures brought more buyers to the Coastal species lumber market looking to fill needs. Market prices for dry items often increased $5 to $10. Inland lumber producers reported a range of selling activity, but the general consensus was that the Inland lumber market is “perking a little. Activity in both Fir-Larch and Hem-Fir moved upward, with prices lifting about $5 in the narrows. Radiata Pine is firm, but a gap between Chile and New Zealand prices is developing. The underlying cause is a currency issue. This week, in a repeat performance of last week, a good volume of Ponderosa Pine industrial lumber moved into new hands. While #2 Shop shows a high degree of stability, both Mldg&Btr and #3 Shop are establishing lower working levels. Last week’s cleansing activity in Ponderosa Pine #2 4/4 boards generally scrubbed major surpluses. This week has seen some rebound in a few of the deepest discounts in #2. Eastern White Pine remains very well balanced between customer demand and production buyers of Western Red Cedar continued to work through their inventories at a moderate pace, buying back in with some degree of trepidation after seeing strong price increases earlier in the year.

Panels: OSB languished in the doldrums for yet another week. Pricing had a weak feel across Canada and the Western U.S., sliding a couple dollars on the Westside. Prompt wood is still available, and system-wide inventories are relatively low. Southern Pine plywood producers experienced a relative quiet week of sales, leaving their order files little changed from the prior week. Still taking delivery on previously purchased volumes, buyers hesitated to order more at the high price levels currently established. Western Fir plywood sales at the mill level were sluggish. Wholesalers carrying long positions sold at prices well below replacement costs and still had considerable profit in those orders. Canadian plywood pricing remained unchanged for the second week in a row, though the market still appears to need wood. So, while distribution is getting a lot of plywood business, mills are selling less panel. Although sales activity has slowed somewhat since early July, a few particleboard producers expressed some surprise at how well volumes sold from week to week have maintained decent levels. Mills in the Southeast and East reported good MDF sales. Some western producers also sold the week’s production.

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