Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Oct. 13, 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

Interest among buyers to purchase SPF lumber volumes remained stout, although sales slowed moderately for some producers. Reluctance among customers to purchase volumes that will not ship until November held back buying. Volumes offered for quick shipment sold readily. Secondaries carried limited positions from which to sell.       

  • Southern Pine prices began to retreat after a five-week run of consecutive gains. Seeing prices weaken early, a number of buyers stepped back from the market at midweek in anticipation of more price erosion.
  • Most Coastal species random tally dimension prices remained solid or continued to move higher despite producers reporting somewhat slower and spotty sales. Buyers entered the market to replenish but remained wary of price levels.
  • Inland price gains were again common, and the size of some of those gains is uncommon. Inland Hem-Fir, which accelerated strongly two weeks ago, saw good advances in the wider widths this week.
  • While traders described 2x4 stud activity as light, many of those prices managed to get through another week without being lowered. Supplies of 2x6 9’ were particularly tight, placing upward pressure on many of those prices for yet another week.
  • Radiata Pine continues to be a moot question with regard to prices. Radiata availability, unlike Ponderosa, seems to have increased, without any effect on prices.
  • Much of the Ponderosa Pine industrial market seems to have been on hold for many weeks. It is clear from recent conversations, however, that the availability of Ponderosa is not as ready as it was a few weeks ago. Ponderosa Pine Selects are quietly stable, continuing a trend that has continued in place for over a year. Ponderosa 4/4 Common board prices show slight changes.
  • Idaho White Pine strengthened from $10 to $25 in Sterling.
  • After a slow start, in part due to Monday’s holidays in Canada and the U.S., Western Red Cedar traders reported a pickup in demand, giving sales activity a steadier feel by week’s end. 

Panels

OSB is on stable footing, but sources feel pricing is getting toppy, especially given the time of year. Demand and construction activity are strong, and buyers are still going hand-to-mouth on purchases, fearful of high prices and seasonal realities.     

  • Southern Pine plywood trading settled in at a slower pace than prior weeks. Still, buyers exhibited an urgency to replenish as strong volumes sold from their yards. Buyers frequently checked on orders while mills continued to struggle with late shipments.
  • Western fir plywood sales slowed enough to generate flat CDX pricing. Buyers sensed greater potential for downside to the current price cycle and held off purchases when possible. Yards filled in where necessary. Mill order files ranged from the weeks of Oct. 23 to 30.
  • Following a meteoric rise to record high prices in August, Canadian plywood markets took a major fall this week as mills tried to make product attractive to spooked buyers. Mills widely offered discounts to reluctant customers.
  • Particleboard sales were lethargic but steady, according to producers. Ample volumes remained available to customers.
  • Mills reported little change in MDF sales. Order files allowed buyers to purchase volumes at a comfortable rate, but transportation issues presented problems.

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