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A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Dec. 16, 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 trading picked up early Thursday, driven by overseas sales and gains in futures. Mills reported order files extending beyond 2011, particularly in 2x4 #2&Btr. Lean inventories in the field contributed to increased demand, as customers tried to cover needs for January. Southern Pine lumber producers used double-digit discounts to pry a few buyers from the sidelines. Overall, demand was light, generating a perception among some traders that the market would "coast through the remainder of the year." Lean inventories and mild winter weather throughout the United States kept buyers coming back into the Coastal species lumber market to replenish inventories. Mills noted a pickup in demand Thursday in response to a run in futures. Inland species lumber producers reported good inquiry levels early in the week but a quieter tone later on. Continued good weather in the Midwest brought unexpected sales from that region. Ponderosa Pine board inventories were light, and a few fill-in loads that would ship before Christmas sold. Idaho White Pine producers reported little inventory to sell. Inquiries were light, and prices remained at last week's levels. Log shortages continue to be a problem for Eastern White Pine producers. Inventories are low and prices firm. Inquiries for extra loads of imported Radiata Pine finger joint mouldings circulated, but mill offerings were light. When Western Red Cedar buyers did purchase, it was solely for delivery in 2012. Remanufacturers and buyers from the industrial segment were active purchasing volumes for the first quarter.
Panels: OSB mills reported a slow start to the week, but that activity improved somewhat late. Buyers indicated they had covered most of their needs and were content to wait and see what the market brings after the holidays. Steady demand in the Southern Pine plywood market propelled mill order files out another week and into 1/9 for the most part. Rated sheathing prices edged $5 to $10 higher in most instances. Western Fir plywood producers reported scant inquiry from customers. While some producers carried order files extending through the end of the year, availability at other mills and the secondary level was enough to soften CDX prices. Canadian plywood producers reported a steady pace to the market. Prices have moved up steadily as order files moved into the second or third week of January. Concerns over holiday shutdowns, as well as the need to fill inventory holes, brought buyers to the table. In the East, particleboard and MDF mills continued to enjoy greater success at moving production more readily and were able to maintain solid order files. Discussions revolving around mill shutdowns circled about the market.