Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Feb. 9, 2018.

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

SPF sales activity overall remained more subdued than January’s demand levels. Pricing remained stout, however, as did many order files. Truck and railcar shortages bolstered order files. Strong gains in lumber futures Wednesday produced a spurt of buying, giving mills their best day of activity.

  • Southern Pine sales activity eased, although producers continued to sell fair volumes. Mill order files remained extended a solid two weeks, with producers reporting they still managed to sell a week’s production, despite a slower pace.
  • Traders reported less sales activity in the Coastal species market, yet prices continued to climb. Upward momentum remained most prominent across Doug Fir items. Buyers reported seeing mill volumes available for quicker shipment. Producers described the slower sales pace as “a pause.”
  • Inland species producers echoed the sentiment of one colleague, who said, “I have had an extremely good week, moving good volumes.” Demand has pushed mill order files on some products into mid-April, with appropriate price increases. In #2&Btr lumber, the focus remained on narrows.
  • Tight availability and good sales continued to propel stud prices higher. Much of the biggest price appreciation remained most concentrated among western Coastal and Inland species. Again, 9-foot gains outpaced those evident in 8-foot. Extended order files, some out to the middle of March, made it difficult for buyers to secure needs.
  • Radiata Pine prices have begun to reflect price gains.
  • Ponderosa Pine 3 Shop and P99 have been strong, joined now by a tendency to firm in #2 Shop. The market for Ponderosa Pine Commons is reported to be a pat formula for supply and demand. Tight supplies of both logs and limited board production kept prices moving upward.
  • Western Red Cedar supplies remained available for late first quarter and second quarter deliveries, but good demand and healthy order files proved difficult for buyers looking for quicker shipping volumes.  

Panels

Anxiety continued to permeate the OSB market this week. Numerous mills were OTM, order files moved out, loads were late, and prices appreciated strongly. Buyers chased orders. Sources were dismayed with prices leapfrogging while very few producers were quoting. 

  • Sales activity in Southern Pine plywood remained strong, although some producers reported a moderately slower pace. While buyers continued trying to catch up with needs, others announced they would hold off buying because of elevated price levels. Nevertheless, order files continued to edge another week further out and prices again moved higher.
  • Western Fir plywood producers reported a moderately slower sales pace than in prior weeks. Buyers continued to enter the market in good numbers, but high prices generated a little more hesitancy among them.
  • Canadian plywood markets continued their digestive mode this week, as action slowed at the mill level but remained brisk at distributors’ yards. Lots of buyers called to check on orders, which typically run two weeks late or worse.
  • Particleboard and MDF continued to show a gradual uptick in sales. A pickup in particleboard activity was noted in the West by a major producer after a sluggish start to the new year. After a comparatively stronger beginning to 2018 in the East, sales activity in that region was steady to slightly better.

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