Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Feb. 10, 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: Early SPF lumber sales prompted mills to raise prices before demand began to fade on Wednesday. Cash sales activity and the March futures contract tended to mirror each other, gaining early and fading by midweek. By Wednesday afternoon, cash and the March futures contract were trading at the same level. Southern Pine lumber producers waited for the distribution chain to work through volumes purchased in January. While inventory at yards moved downstream at a decent pace, producers were forced to discount dimension lumber another week. Coastal species lumber prices again held up, with increases outpacing any declines. Buyers purchased steady volumes, spurred in part by order files at SPF mills and early futures gains. Gains in 2x4 #2&Btr were evident. Inland species markets remained on firm ground. A strengthening SPF market, driven by futures; distributers restocking inventory; mild weather and confidence among wholesalers all contributed to Inland pricing. Markets for Ponderosa Pine Moulding and Shop remained stable, with prices holding within a few dollars of previous levels. Supply side dynamics continued to influence Ponderosa Pine board markets. Activity for Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr continued at a steady pace with firm prices. Limited volumes of Idaho White Pine kept prices firm, in spite of light sales volumes. Continued steady sales of Eastern White Pine and order files into March kept prices firm. Sales activity in the Western Red Cedar market was slightly more subdued than in previous weeks. Some producers described the downturn in demand as a "digestion" period, after buyers, particularly retailers, purchased earlier volumes to stock shelves.

Panels: After a quiet period over the past few weeks, OSB producers reported an increase in activity and firming prices. The week started out with deep counters, but prices firmed and mill order files extended out into the weeks of Feb. 27 to March 5. After a slow beginning to the week, sales activity in the Southern Pine plywood market increased Wednesday and continued through Thursday. Negotiated rated sheathing prices were part of the mix early. Discounts dried up after wholesalers participated and distributors replenished inventories. Western Fir plywood sheathing prices bottomed at midweek and pushed $5 to $10 higher, as buyers came into in greater numbers to replenish inventories. Eastern distribution yards were instrumental in allowing producers to push prices and extend order files out in to the week of Feb. 27. The Canadian plywood market started the week out on a somewhat quiet note but soon heated up, as upcoming weight restrictions in the East and light field inventories in the West brought buyers back into the market. The pace of particleboard sales slowed modestly, while MDF sales were reported stronger for a second consecutive week.

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