A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for March 23, 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: While SPF mills tended to hold prices near trading levels used the week prior, wholesalers sold at levels around $10 below replacement prices. The distribution chain worked off previous purchases, leaving sales activity at mills "very quiet." Modest sales activity forced producers to make price concessions for Southern Pine dimension lumber. Discounts were often minor, in part because of a perception among producers that consumption is enough to force buyers back into the market after a short period. Price declines were more pronounced on the Westside. Demand for both green and dry Coastal species dimension lumber declined, leaving prices flat or slipping up to $5. By several accounts, reloads had significant volumes that needed to be sold before buyers came back in to purchase from mills. Inland species lumber producers reported a slower pace to the market. Many buyers stayed on the sidelines, waiting for possible "end of month" specials. A weak futures market added to buyers' cautious approach to the market. Sales activity for Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr remained steady but uneventful. Mill order files into mid-April kept prices firm. In the Ponderosa Pine board market, mill order files continued to be the controlling factor. Activity for Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr was good, and producers reported sales for May shipment and June arrival. The sales pace for ESLP boards slowed. Broken tallies at some mills made it difficult for buyers to cover their specific needs. In Eastern White Pine, mill order files kept producers in control of the market. Buyers of Western Red Cedar were more active, purchasing moderately more than during the few prior weeks. Throughout the distribution chain, reports of increased sales volumes over last year were prevalent.
Panels: Producers remained in the OSB driver's seat for another week. Even though sales volumes were light, order files were the tool producers used to keep control of the market. Prices in most regions were firm and unchanged. Cautious buyers stayed out of the Southern Pine plywood market unless a need was absolutely necessary. High prices and the downside risk they presented kept wholesalers checking for any spark in the market before buying. Western Fir plywood buyers took to the sidelines in large numbers, cautiously assessing near-term buying strategies. Meanwhile, producers clung to shrinking order files stretching into early April. In Canadian plywood, mill order files out to the week of April 16, in some cases, bolstered producers' resolve to hold prices. DC buyers concentrated on shipments of previous purchases rather than looking to fill holes in inventories. Recent price increases in particleboard and MDF continued to take hold, and producers carried on the process of increasing prices for more customers.
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