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A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for April 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: A gain in futures Wednesday gave SPF buyers the excuse they needed to purchase enough volume to firm prices in the West. Mill order files edged into the week of April 30. Mills in the East were able to raise prices as a result of solid demand. Demand for Southern Pine lumber remained strong, pushing most published prices higher. Solid spring sales of treated lumber led treaters back into the market to replenish. West and Central zone 2x12 #2 prices surpassed the $400 mark for the first time in two years. Prices were mixed in the Coastal species lumber market, made up of rising dry prices and soft green Doug Fir pricing. Cuts in dry production over the past three weeks have helped keep those supplies in check. Conditions at most mills in the Inland region encouraged firm pricing. Although it was difficult to get buyers to accept increases, it was easy for mills to refuse discounts. Both Radiata and Taeda Pine from South America are tightly controlled in availability and are firmly and stably priced. Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr remains unchanged in either 5/4 or 6/4. Little #2 Shop is available, and #3 Shop is “firm and flat,” according to another source. Ponderosa Pine 1x6 and 1x8 #2 Common are mentioned as good performers, on the basis of retail demand for pattern stock. This is also true of Eastern White Pine in both 1x6 and 1x8 Standard. Among items noted for their relative weakness are Ponderosa 1x4 #2 Common and all Eastern White Pine Selects. Western Red Cedar mills continued to try to press prices higher whenever the opportunity presented itself, although demand for most items was in line with supply.
Panels: OSB markets are in a stalemate. Prices are stable in all regions, but it is a fragile stability. Producers were not able to develop the power to push their order files further this week. Southern Pine plywood buyers fulfilled enough needs to keep mill order files moving as far out as the middle of May and rated sheathing prices edging higher. Any potential for lower prices continued to force yards into purchasing conservative volumes at a steady pace. Sales activity in the Western Fir plywood market was good enough to boost some sheathing prices $5 higher and propel ship times of some items into the week of May 7. Mills noted a return of western buyers to the market. Canadian softwood plywood mills sold sufficient material to move order files out a week, giving them leverage to lift the base price to C$353. Still trying to nudge MDF and particleboard prices higher because of urea cost increases, talk from producers of more cost related price increases again surfaced.