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Harbinger Group makes bid for Central Garden & Pet

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Harbinger Group, the privately held holding company for Spectrum Brands’ wide assortment of home-related brands, is courting shareholders of Central Garden & Pet Co. to buy the company.

According to a letter from Harbinger to CGP shareholders, the offer is a $10 per share bid for the company or a $750 million acquisition of the pet segment.

Central Garden & Pet is a Walnut Creek, California-based pet and lawn supply company.  

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Existing-home sales up 4.9% in May

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bringing some good news to the industry after a weak month for housing starts, existing-home sales peaked sharply in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million — the highest month-over-month gain since August 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Single-family home sales rose even more — 5.7% — to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.30 million.

“Home buyers are benefiting from slower price growth due to the much-needed, rising inventory levels seen since the beginning of the year,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, citing a 2.2% climb in total housing inventory. “Moreover, sales were helped by the improving job market and the temporary but slight decline in mortgage rates.”

The median existing-home price was $213,400 in May, a 5.1% increase since last year that’s been tempered by the growth in inventory. Yun cautioned that inventory levels are still not quite where they need to be to maintain healthy levels of supply and affordability. That means housing starts need to pick up the pace, and soon.

NAR president Steve Brown said there’s positive momentum in housing fundamentals, and those buyers who were left out of the market when prices and interest rates began rising last summer have a chance to get in the game now that conditions have slowed.

April’s total existing-home sales were revised up to a rate of 4.66 million. May’s number is still 5.0% below May 2013’s 5.15 million-unit level, however.

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Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for June 20, 2014

*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: A confirmed overseas sale pried SPF lumber buyers off the sidelines late last week, and the market gathered more momentum this week. July futures stabilized, showing no day-end losses, and a strong gain Thursday added some pep to the cash market. Southern Pine lumber mills reported slow sales, again placing downward pressure on most dimension lumber prices. Bearish traders often predicted a weak market for at least the remainder of this month. Temperatures in the 90s and even 100s in the Southeast this week gave end-users a reason to remain indoors. Coastal species lumber producers lowered prices early, attempting to sell in a market where supply was maintaining an edge over demand. At those lower levels, buyers began to increase their purchases, creating trading levels. Inland lumber producers enjoyed a week of modest gains in price and a definite uplift in the tone of the market. Production of Fir-Larch, an occasional event among Canadian mills, has begun to taper off, reducing pressure on U.S. prices. Radiata Pine prices have been firm, and they remain so. Ponderosa Pine prices are also firm and unchanged this week, although some buyers report increased inquiries from producers with regard to Mldg&Btr lumber. In Ponderosa Pine boards show #3 Common is the best, #4 is better, and #2 shows a little raggedness with regard to demand. Eastern White Pine has developed some very solid demand bases, especially from export markets. Supply and demand remained balanced in the Western Red Cedar market. Buyers continued to purchase steady volumes while mills kept inventories lean. Buyers needing deliveries quicker than what railcars can provide switched orders to truckload shipments.

Panels: OSB saw a firming trend this week, with sheathing grades picking up more strength than flooring. Southern U.S. markets were softer than those to the west. Mill price levels increased as order files moved out. Southern Pine plywood producers have garnered enough order file to keep rated sheathing prices firm and elevate them in a few instances. Buyers purchased moderate volumes. Wholesalers sold off positions established the week prior at a steady pace, and some reentered the market. After modest early demand, sales activity in the Western Fir plywood market picked up at midweek, sending prices higher and mill order files into early July. A few producers extended moderate discounts to customers early in an effort to extend order files out to the July 4 holiday. Canadian plywood prices ended the week unchanged. Early week started off slow, with discounts and special deals available, though that all firmed from Wednesday through the end of the week. Particleboard sales activity, described as “lacking any intensity” by one producer, showed little variation in the volumes moving from mills to customers. Mills continued to sell production. MDF sales remained slower than particleboard demand. Buyers have purchased replacement volumes from other mills to in light of the recent mill fire, but one producer remarked that additional sales from the event were “underwhelming.”

For more on RISI, click here.  

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