Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for July 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: SPF lumber producers were satisfied with volumes sold in what most described as a "steady" market. Yards backfilled inventories, and wholesalers back-to-backed at a modest profit. Eastern producers were more aggressive with prices increases. Mill sales in the Southern Pine lumber market were strong enough to keep upward pressure on prices in the East and Central zones and provide a floor from which West zone prices could bounce. Distributors reported "good" sales and replenished accordingly. Coastal species lumber buyers willing to pay more to replenish inventories helped maintain upward pressure on most #2&Btr prices. Follow through from the week prior helped establish a steady pace. The Inland species lumber market was led by Hem-Fir/White Woods, with Fir-Larch running a close second. Buyers reported having difficulty sourcing specific lengths and adequate volumes to fill their needs. Offerings from mills often consisted of mixed loads of 14 ft., 16 ft. and 20 ft. with no short lengths available. Eastern White Pine producers reported steady sales and firm or slightly improved prices. Buyers sought highly mixed truckloads. Ponderosa Pine board producers sometimes found the market "frustrating" as buyers kept their PO books closed. Sales of #3 Common were a bright spot. The industrials market in Ponderosa Pine continued to show weakness in Shop grades and lackluster firmness in Mldg&Btr. The price of upper grades of Shop continued to decline. Both Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr and Shop were in short supply, with Shop nearly impossible to source unless you were on a program already. Buyers who were looking for Mldg&Btr had to pay the price to get coverage.

Panels: The OSB market this week is a case of have and have not; those that have inventory are saying the market is quiet but flat while those without inventory say the market is overpriced and should come down. Mill prices in most U.S. regions were close to previous levels, while Canadian mill prices were more vulnerable. Strong sales propelled prices higher in the Southern Pine plywood market. Volumes sold were enough to push mill order files as far out as the week of Aug. 20, with most availability earlier in that month. Distributors and retailers purchased significant volumes, replenishing very thin inventories. Western Fir plywood producers struggled to sell volumes early, forcing discounts. Buyers stepped in Thursday in greater numbers to replenish inventories, firming prices. Canadian plywood producers reported an increase in both phone activity and sales in the latter half of the week. The base price for 9.5mm delivered Toronto moved up two points. Particleboard and MDF markets were steady overall, although week-over-week particleboard sales per mill remain a little erratic. MDF sales activity continued to outpace particleboard.

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