Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for July 11, 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: Producers of SPF lumber increased quotes moderately and achieved sales at the higher levels, experiencing what many described as “steady” demand throughout the week. Western mill order files extending into late July and even early August tended to limit mill offerings. Southern Pine lumber buyers continued to purchase steady volumes in many instances, but not enough to keep buildups from occurring in several items, particularly in wide widths of #2. Coastal species lumber prices continued to adjust very little, although more prices carried a degree of firmness rather than any tendency to drift slightly lower. Mills admitted it was a battle to squeeze higher prices out the market. Inland dimension lumber continues to ease its way to firmer prices, continuing the trend that began a couple weeks ago. The strength of the market issues from a combination of low production levels and modest demand. Some discounted Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr might still be available, but it does not define the market. Some extra blanks are available from Chile. Ponderosa Pine industrials continue to be reported firm and unchanged in both Mldg&Btr and Shop. Ponderosa Pine 4/4 board producers report “a decent market.” The pace of activity has been moderate, but enough to keep prices from eroding rapidly. Eastern White Pine producers report a “steady and firm” market. Prices are stable, and producers report that they are booking forward into August. Among western producers, ESLP boards have added $5 to several items, as demand continues to be solid for those items. Several Western Red Cedar producers detected a slower pace to the market, which was a continuation of the week prior. Some slowing was noted in the Texas market, but not all suppliers agreed.
Panels: OSB prices remained mostly flat to off a few dollars, with a more pronounced downward drift in 19/32” and 23/32” thicknesses. Mills were reported seeking orders and listening to counters. Spotty two-tiered markets developed. Steady and strong sales activity in the Southern Pine plywood market boosted most prices higher and constricted the amount of mill availability in July. As order files moved into the week of July 28 and beyond, yards began to turn to wholesalers for quicker shipping volumes. Robust sales activity propelled some Western Fir plywood prices to levels not seen in over a year and order files into at least the week of July 28. Participation came from a broad spectrum of buyers after inventories at yards had run low. Canadian plywood experienced an extremely strong week, with prices making solid jumps. Mills tried levels two points above those established, capturing limited orders by Friday. Particleboard producers tended to sell volumes close to their weekly output. A slightly slower pace was no surprise to producers, expecting vacation-taking customers to purchase fewer volumes. MDF production returned to the market after an inland mill came back on line following a fire June 10. Buyers reported that MDF availability was good.
For more on RISI, click here.
Plum Creek facility back up and running after fire
After explosions and fire rocked a Plum Creek MDF facility in Columbia Falls, Montana on June 10, the company announced that production has resumed again.
Employees were all safely evacuated, with no reported injuries. An investigation determined that a mechanical failure caused the fire. There is also an estimated $8 million to $10 million worth of damage at the plant.
“We are very thankful that all the local fire and safety departments rallied to protect the people working at the facility," said VP northwest resources and manufacturing Tom Ray.
The No. 2 production line, where the company makes between 1/10th and 1/2-inch continuous-press fiberboard, officially restarted June 30. The No. 1 production line, which produces up to 1 1/2-inch fiberboard, will be back in full gear this week.
Plum Creek had continued shipping existing product to customers during the three-week closure. Additionally, no employee lost a day of work, with many assigned tasks to help with the recovery effort.
Ray added that Plum Creek will donate $15,000 to the response units that helped successfully contain the fire. “Their work is greatly appreciated and we hope these funds support the important work they provide every day to our community,” he said.