Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Nov. 9, 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 sales activity in the SPF lumber market gave mills the opportunity to again raise prices. Order files extending into the last week of this month also provided impetus for the single-digit price gains. Western mills continued to ship significant volumes overseas to Asian markets. Southern Pine lumber producers noted a slower pace early, but the totality of sales made for a fairly strong week. Mill order files, stretching into or through the Thanksgiving week, contributed to strong price hikes. Coastal species lumber buyers again purchased enough volumes to force mill prices higher. A number of buyers finished purchasing early, prior to leaving for the NAWLA Traders Market. This generated a slower pace to the market later in the week. Inland lumber producers, like most others, had a slight temporary reaction to the election, but the market disregarded any negativism and continued to forge stronger numbers. Ponderosa Pine industrial lumber is stable, from P99 through Mldg&Btr. Prices are unchanged, and even the #2 Shop, which has struggled all year, is less dramatic in its weakness. Neither Ponderosa Pine nor Eastern White Pine boards showed any change in prices, and wholesalers report that their activity is similarly slow for the time being. A number of market mavens in Western Red Cedar made their way early in the week to the NAWLA Traders Market. For those that stayed behind to man the phones, sales for shipment this year were light.

Panels: OSB prices continued to move upward, in some cases by substantial margins. This is the case in all producing regions, with the greatest pressure coming in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. Distribution and retail yards were the driving force behind "decent" mill sales in the Southern Pine plywood market. Order files moved into the week of Nov. 26. Extended lead times helped mills increase a few sheathing prices. A fairly modest sales pace did not keep Western Fir plywood producers from raising prices on some items. Most order files ran in the range of Nov. 12 out to Nov. 26, depending on the item. Producers with quicker shipping volumes were able to work that to their advantage. Prices have paused for the time being in Canadian plywood. The delivered baseline for 9.5 mm CSP remains C$366, established last week after some aggressive buying among distributors. Those buyers now have wood coming to them, so they have reined in their activity. Particleboard buyers kept a close eye on inventories heading into the latter stages of the year. Moulding manufacturers continue to buy strong volumes from MDF producers.

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