Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Aug. 29, 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: Persistent demand allowed SPF lumber producers to sell enough volumes to keep prices firm overall. Cautious buying and the need for quick shipping volumes created a perception among traders than inventories remained lean in the field. Southern Pine lumber mills experienced fewer sales as buyers often cited high prices and improving availability as reasons for their less aggressive approach to purchasing. Buyers shied away from purchasing volumes shipping beyond a week’s time, fearing late deliveries on high priced lumber in what they perceived to be a “toppy” market. Although buyers remained cautious, they continued to purchase enough volumes to keep most Coastal species lumber prices firm or moving higher. Dry pricing tended to edge higher while green Doug Fir prices were mostly flat. The market for Inland lumber producers might have been “somewhat muted,” as one source indicated, but it still maintained pace enough to edge the prices yet modestly higher. At this point, buyers own very little inventory stock, and prices have not weakened. Possible changes in the volumes of New Zealand Radiata Pine have caused some U.S. buyers to seek supplies of Mldg&Btr from the only alternative source available, Chile. U.S. Radiata Pine boards are firm in price and overall volumes, maintaining a very tight marketing environment. Ponderosa Pine shows some weaknesses in Mldg&Btr and #3 Shop. While Mldg&Btr has not changed this week, #3 Shop and P99 both show declines. Sales activity in the Western Red Cedar market remained sluggish, although some buyers returning from vacations did place orders. Business in the Pacific Northwest was solid, and a few suppliers reported better demand out of Texas now that school has started back up.

Panels: As in previous weeks, OSB trading happened within narrow ranges, and the market lacks urgency. Buyers are taking only what they need, currently. Mills remained mostly resistant to counters but were agreeable to a couple dollars off in eastern Canada, as well as the U.S. Southeast and Southwestern regions. Southern Pine producers tried to move more of their order files into the week of September 8 and did so with $10 to $15 discounts for thicker rated sheathing items. Market weakness prompted buyers to hold off purchases or buy minimal volumes to fill-in inventories when necessary. Western Fir plywood mills reported different levels of sales activity, but volumes sold did not equate to any firming of CDX prices. Discounts varied by producer and item. A little excitement happened in Canadian plywood late week, as buyers came to the table to replace diminished stocks. Net pricing ended the week down a point, signaling the first change in almost six weeks. By Friday, mills quoted back up to week-ago levels, but no one was biting. While some particleboard producers said they expected a pickup in business in September, others actually experienced what they perceived to be improved fall sales. Most MDF producers reported steady sales.

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