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Housing starts cross the million mark

BY Ken Clark

Housing starts are back above 1 million.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of new residential construction surged to 1.036 million in March, according to data released Tuesday morning by the Commerce Department. That’s 7.0% above last month’s pace, and a whopping 46.7% ahead of the pace from March 2012, when starts were stalled at 706,000.

The total housing starts figure is the highest since June 2008, when starts hit a pace of 1.046 million.

In the single-family housing arena, there was less to celebrate. Starts declined 4.8% from the previous month’s rate. Still, single-family starts of 619,000 for March were up 28.7% from the same month a year ago.

Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 902,000. This is 3.9% below the revised February rate of 939,000, but is 17.3% above the March 2012 estimate of 769,000.

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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 April 12, 2013

*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: Sales activity at SPF mills was slow, as buyers often turned to secondaries to purchase needs. Seeing potential for another buying opportunity, wholesalers sold off their positions at a variety of price levels. Mills came off their prices but sold only modest volumes. Slow sales activity at Southern Pine lumber mills forced them again to discount those items where surpluses existed. High prices and the potential for more downward price pressure prompted retailers to turn to distributors for mixed truckload needs. Coastal species lumber producers listened to counters and accepted some prices $5 to $10 below the prior week’s levels. Much of the weakness was located in narrow widths. Inland species lumber producers reported a market where sales volumes were light but prices were firm or even up slightly. Buyers’ attention was focused most on Fir-Larch narrows. A handful of sales of Radiata Pine Shop were reported, with the majority of that production going to destinations outside North America. The port strike in Chile ended last Friday and ships are again being loaded. Some Ponderosa Pine industrials producers reported lighter inquiries for Mldg&Btr but also said they did sell a high percentage of the quotes. The lower grades in boards continued to be the bright spot in the Ponderosa Pine Selects and Commons market. Eastern White Pine board producers reported good sales after buyers returned to their desks after meeting in Boston last week. Although Western Red Cedar mills continue to add to healthy order files, those sales are still not near the pace most market participants expect over the coming weeks. Prices were flat.

Panels: The two-tiered OSB market that has existed for several weeks continued. Activity was quiet in both tiers, as buyers stayed on the sidelines, waiting for a clear sign of a change in the market. Western U.S. markets were a little firmer than those in the East. Mill sales slowed in Southern Pine plywood, but the market remained on very firm footing and price movement was upward. Bulging mill order files limited wholesalers from purchasing. Lackluster Western Fir plywood sales did little to place any upward pressure on prices, and modest mill order files helped keep widespread discounting out of the market. The market for Canadian plywood was lackluster, as producers held prices and buyers remained on the sidelines. Mill order files were out to May at some mills and as little as a week at others. A lack of regional particleboard availability forced Texas buyers to look beyond their usual suppliers to source board. MDF sales remained robust in the West and East, and the pursuit of higher prices persisted.

For more on RISI, click here.

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Jewett-Cameron reports Q2 sales increase

BY HBSDealer Staff

Jewett-Cameron Trading Co. has reported sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2013 of $14.2 million, compared with sales of $11.8 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2012. For the quarter, income from operations was $979,059 compared with $672,436 in the year-ago quarter.

For the six months ended Feb. 28, Jewett-Cameron reported sales of $23.5 million compared with sales of $19.0 million for the same period a year ago. Net income after other items and income taxes was $1.27 million, compared with net income of $1.35 million in the first six months of fiscal 2012. The current six-month period was positively affected by the gain on sale of property, while the year-ago six month period was positively affected by the reversal of Litigation Reserves.

"Our efforts to increase our market share of existing products continues to be reflected in our higher sales and operating income for the quarter and six-month period," said CEO Don Boone. "We are also pleased with the successful introduction of our new pet containment products."

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