Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Aug. 15, 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: Buyers of SPF lumber continued to purchase enough volumes to propel prices higher, sometimes by double digits, but sales activity at the mill level was not as strong as the end of the prior week. Having rid themselves of inventory buildups that plagued wide width pricing for several weeks, Southern Pine lumber producers raised quotes across all dimensions and experienced strong sales at the higher levels. Treaters continued to purchase significant volumes. Demand outpaced supply, continuing to nudge Coastal species lumber prices higher. Buyers, while continuing to keep inventories in check, continued to replenish with moderate volumes. Inland lumber gains came to both the narrows and wides of #2&Btr lumber in both Fir-Larch and Hem-Fir. The upper grades of lumber are strong, showing some solid increases. Radiata Pine industrial lumber prices are very firm. While supplies of 5/4 and 6/4 Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr and #3 Shop are more than ample, no price changes were reported. The relatively slow pace in Ponderosa Pine 4/4 Commons caused one source to say, “Boards are hanging.” Those board prices are firm, with some California mills raising the price of their C Selects. One source noted that wide widths in Inland Cedar boards were being sought, but no price changes were reported. Eastern White Pine remains quite stable in all its prices. Standard is moving well, industrial EWP is good, and mixed trucks characterize the typical order, helping to contribute to the stability of the overall market. Western Red Cedar producers reported “sluggish” to “moderate” sales activity, which tended to erode order files extending into early September. Buyers often wanted specific tallies. Pattern stock and bevels sold well. Posts and rails continued to sell from mills at a solid pace.

Panels: The OSB market remained relatively flat this week, with buying activity to meet needs. However, mills are evermore resolute on pricing, refusing to be pushed close to the break-even ledge. Limited deals were reported on thick panels, but are tougher to find in sheathing. Despite a slower sales pace in the Southern Pine plywood market, producers remained bullish. Limited inventories in the field, solid sales at the secondary level and mill order files stretched into the week of Aug. 25 fueled that confidence. Western Fir plywood producers often reported quotes near the prior week’s market levels, but some were willing to discount off those levels to bolster order files and continue to sell at historically high prices. Canadian plywood prices remain unchanged the third week running, still sitting at a level established at the end of July following a major plywood mill fire in Oregon. Sept. 15 order files continue to cause hesitation, since market players seem split on whether that month will be active or soft. Neither particleboard nor MDF exhibited much in the way of either positive or negative momentum. Particleboard producers often reported generally stable sales.

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