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A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Jan. 20, 2012
*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: Demand for SPF lumber drew even quieter at a time when the need for mills to get orders grew greater. The result was a clear downturn in prices. Producers entered the market with varying degrees of aggressiveness, in some instances depending on how well mills were running in frigid weather. Southern Pine producers continued to experience good follow-through demand early, but activity slowed by Thursday. Producers aggressively pushed quotes higher early, leading to double-digit price increases. Those price increases prompted buyers to view the market more cautiously. Buyers perceived some market weakness in the Coastal species lumber market and tried to talk mills into discounts. Overall, sales activity was down. Aside from the occasional move-off of floor stocks, discounts were limited. Inland lumber producers reported a quieter week of sales. The muted activity was said to be partially caused by a shortened week for some and winter weather settling over the upper half of the country. Buyers of Ponderosa Pine boards struggled to find good tallies at Inland mills and sometimes had to settle for what they could get. Some cleanup items were offered but at market prices. Supplies of Idaho White Pine were light and prices were firm. Eastern White Pine buyers looked for mixed loads with very specific tallies. Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr sales were light but steady, and no price changes were reported. Sales of Shop were virtually non-existent. Seasonal sales activity remained moderate in the Western Red Cedar market. Producers reported a few more orders consisting of carload quantities, but assumed many customers were waiting until the calendar draws closer to springtime before increasing their inventories.
Panels: OSB producers were able to put another mark in the plus column for this week. The market started out on a somewhat quiet note, but activity picked up and by week's end, prices were up and order files were extended. Sales activity in the Southern Pine plywood market settled into a slower but steady pace. Mill volumes sold were often less than a week's production, but enough to extend more order files out into the week of Feb. 13. Eastside activity outpaced the Central and West zones. Most Western Fir plywood mills were able to cling to stable sheathing prices. Some discounting did take place, although other mills carried order files into the week of Feb. 6. The Canadian plywood market was influenced by winter weather buyers attending the WRLA show. As lower-priced panels were sold off early, mills raised their asking levels. A slightly improved particleboard market that began to appear after the first of the year took another step forward. Sales out of distribution yards also improved. MDF sales again lagged particleboard.