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A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Dec. 2, 2011
*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 lumber buyers watched futures drop precipitously, generating some hesitancy. In addition, many buyers had already purchased needs prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Mill order files reported extending into the week Dec. 12 left minimal volumes available for the remainder of the year at some mills. Southern Pine lumber demand faded, easing the price appreciation that took place in recent weeks. Production startups following shutdowns during the Thanksgiving week gave buyers a reason to step back and consider their next move. Sales activity was quieter in the Coastal Species lumber market, but limited availability left prices somewhat firm in most instances. Lean inventories in yards and limited production, along with a lack of severe winter weather, all have buyers paying close attention to the market. The week started slow in the Inland lumber market, with narrows showing signs of weakening. However, buyers stepped in later in the week, and mills were able to clean up excesses and firm or even increase prices. Activity was mostly with secondaries and big retail chains. Although sales volumes were light, prices for Ponderosa Pine Selects and Commons remained firm. Production cutbacks due to difficulty getting logs helped keep Eastern White Pine prices firm. Idaho White Pine prices remained on firm ground, in spite of light sales. Prices were unchanged for Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr and Shop grades, although some downward pressure on Shop lumber was reported. Importers of finger joint moldings reported full order files. Western Red Cedar producers and their customers continued to line up business for 2012, each week placing more emphasis on the upcoming year. Orders taken for December shipment were very limited.
PANELS: OSB producers reported a strong finish to the week, with prices and order files both extending. Improved sales, along with upcoming holiday shutdowns, were enough to propel mill order files into the new year on many items. Southern Pine plywood producers continued to achieve higher-rated sheathing price levels of $5 to $15 and extend order files. Retailers purchased steady volumes, as did distribution yards. Wholesalers, able to sell off previous positions, bought back in with a fair degree of confidence. Sales activity in the Western Fir plywood market was strong enough to maintain firm pricing. Sales extended into the week of Dec. 19, but volumes were available for quicker shipment at mills. An improving Canadian plywood market that started last week continued this week, as holiday shutdowns were announced, and mild weather strengthened buyers' confidence in the market. Much of the same trends were in play in both the MDF and particleboard markets. Despite unbalanced markets, particularly in the West, producers told their customers to expect price increases of 5% or less beginning Jan. 1, 2012.