Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index


A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for June 8, 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: Trading was light in SPF lumber, but mills were able to fill enough railcars to limit the number of deals. Deals were spotty, and seemed more prevalent in the East. A perception that mills might be more open to lowering prices because of reductions in export taxes to the U.S. existed among buyers. Slow trading in the Southern Pine lumber market left prices weak, prompting producers to get out ahead of price declines by discounting trouble spots more deeply. Distributors let holes develop in inventories rather than purchase depreciating volumes. Eroded order files and spot buildups forced some deals to take place in the Coastal species lumber market. Even with the lower prices, success at selling those volumes that mills needed to move was mixed. The existence of a volume of shorts stirred the Inland lumber market. Talk centered on how deeply mills would have to discount in order to secure that business. Lack of obvious surpluses caused some industry members to say that covering those shorts would be difficult. Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr is tight on the supply side and has an extended delivery time, leaving prices firm. All other Radiata Pine prices are also firm and unchanged. Ponderosa Pine 5/4 Mldg&Btr is not difficult to find, but prices are holding steady. Some surpluses have been reported in Ponderosa Pine 5/4 #2 Shop. Activity in Selects and Commons was erratic, with some Ponderosa Pine producers adjusting the prices of C&Btr Selects to try to give those items a little momentum. Eastern White Pine producers report having good order files, some mills reporting being up to two weeks behind in shipping. Buyers were reported to be “sniffing” at Idaho White Pine offerings, hoping for discounts to develop.

Panels: OSB markets were strong in all regions, with no price declines showing anywhere and some sharp increases in other places. Canada showed the greatest gains, with most U.S. areas either holding steady from mid-week through the end of the week or pushing up slightly. Supply was the key driver in the Southern Pine plywood market. Where supplies were ample, producers tried varying degrees of aggressiveness to move product. Where supplies were tighter, mills were able to use the same price levels throughout the week. Solid, steady demand for Western Fir plywood prompted price increases at even those mills where extending order files was paramount. Attempts by some Canadian plywood producers to moderate their order files by pricing defensively proved fruitless, as buyers kept placing orders and forcing prices upward. Sales volumes remained steady in both particleboard and MDF markets. Mills producing both products often cited MDF as the frontrunner in market strength, but particleboard lead times and pricing also held up well.

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