Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Sept. 22, 2017.

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 continued to purchase strong SPF volumes from mills, pushing producers’ order files out as far as the last full week of October. By Thursday, buyers exhibited more reluctance to purchase volumes shipping that late in the fall, but quicker shipping volumes at mills were scooped up quickly.    

  • Sales activity in the Southern Pine market remained strong. Mills raised quotes early, in most cases by double digits, and sold at those levels. Seeing no evidence of immediate downside risk, buyers continued to purchase significant volumes while experiencing good takeaways from their yards.
  • Demand for Coastal species items continued to absorb limited mill offerings. Order files, often out into the weeks of October 9 and 16, helped maintain upward pressure on prices. Not all prices increased, but those that held remained firm.
  • Despite a slight moderation in the pace, Inland species remained very solid, as shown by the number of price increases producers were able to secure, with a clear emphasis on Fir-Larch, although Hem-Fir showed gains, as well.
  • Stud pricing was flat to higher, with 9’ generally carrying more strength than 8’. Pricing in 2x4 8’ was particularly stagnant while 2x6 availability was overall tighter than 2x4.
  • Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr and Shop both continue to be offered in greater volumes. Those reports also confirm, however, that no discounts have occurred on mill lists.
  • Ponderosa Pine 5/4 #3 Shop and P99 quotes could be countered and available at discounted levels. Both 5/4 and 6/4 #2 Shop are reported to be steady and stable at current levels. Ponderosa Pine 4/4 Selects remain stable and unchanged. Ponderosa Pine Commons show a few weaknesses.
  • ESLP and Idaho White Pine 4/4 boards show no changes.
  • High Western Red Cedar pricing remained a sticking point for buyers looking ahead to next year’s purchases. Buyers remained steadfast in their aim to seek lower prices, if at all possible, when purchasing volumes for 2018.
     

Panels

For most regions, OSB markets quieted as the week progressed. Last week saw a rally after which a digestive mode set in and buyers remain cautious with prices reaching ever-higher levels. Prompt wood commands a premium, and order files range from the week of Oct. 9 into November.   

  • Sales activity in the Southern Pine plywood remained robust across all reported products, sending all prices higher. Buyers scrambled for coverage in some instances, continuing to purchase for shipment as far out as early November.
  • Moderate upward price pressure persisted in Western Fir plywood. Buyers continued to purchase at a decent clip, bolstering mill order files extended into the front half of October. Buyers remained cautious, recognizing high market prices.
  • Canadian plywood manufacturers did some discounting this week and moved order files out another week. A market once reluctant to buy at record-high levels is now cautiously watching prices to see how far they will crack.
  • Particleboard sales in the East and West were lackluster. Some mills reported modest erosion of their order files.
  • The market for MDF had the benefit of recent downtime at mills, which helped other producers maintain healthy order files.

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