Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Oct. 26, 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: After a lackluster beginning, sales activity improved in the SPF lumber market. Strong 2x4 sales highlighted the market, forcing some mill order files for that item out into the week of Nov. 19. Buyers continued to cover needs, prompting Southern Pine lumber producers to more aggressively raise prices. Buyers were forced to turn to wholesalers and distribution to cover prompt needs. Truss manufacturers were active. Enough volumes were sold at Coastal species lumber mills to maintain price levels or push them higher. Recent shipments to China have helped reduce supplies in domestic markets. Wide width dry Douglas Fir and Hem-Fir prices held. The Inland species lumber market continued its recovery, as mill order files extended and mill inventories were cleaned up. Wholesalers sold off their previous purchases with profit and stepped back in to replace them. Eastern White Pine producers concentrated on maintaining or extending order files rather than pushing prices up and shutting off sales. The market for ESLP boards remained on the quiet side, but prices remained firm. A limited selection of Ponderosa Pine Selects and Commons and some contractual sales have helped Inland producers keep price levels for boards firm. Activity for Ponderosa Pine industrial lumber continued to move at a snail's pace. Only #3 and P99 seemed to have a following. Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr and Shop sales were steady, and limited supplies kept prices firm. Producers were able to sell to markets outside the United States that brought a better return to the mill. Western Red Cedar market mavens continued to look more toward 2013, gearing up for what they hope will be more improvement on top of what occurred this year. Mills and distributors continued to wait on a large share of home center business yet to be allocated.

Panels: Producers are clearly still in control of the OSB markets. With order files extending closer to Thanksgiving, talk of holiday shutdowns increased. All regions showed strength and prices continued to climb. The most common description of the Southern Pine plywood market among producers was "decent." Volumes sold were not as strong as the week prior, leaving order files in the week of Nov. 5. Overall, prices were flat. Order files at Western Fir plywood mills, extending into Nov. 5 early in the week, remained there. Follow through from the prior week's bounce was limited. Some producers indicated more inquiry and activity at the end of the week. The Canadian plywood market appears to have reached modest level of firmness for the time being. Producers report varying levels of success at holding price levels. The general feel in the marketplace was one of steadiness in both MDF and particleboard. A few mills noted a slight increase in particleboard sales volumes.

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