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March retail sales trend upward
The U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for March, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $411.1 billion, an increase of 0.8% from the previous month.
Compared with the same month last year, sales were up 6.5%.
Total sales for the January through March 2012 period were up 6.4% from the same period a year ago.
Sales for the building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, a group that includes home centers and hardware stores, were $27.758 billion in March on an adjusted basis, up 3.0% from February.
Non-store retailers were up 9.3% from last year, according to the report.
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Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for April 13, 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: Moderate levels of demand in the SPF lumber market were enough to maintain most price levels. Buying improved slightly at the end of the week. An occasional specified length was negotiated when a buildup occurred. Follow through from demand experienced at the end of the prior week prompted Southern Pine lumber producers to raise prices, in most instances by double-digits. Treaters continued to purchase significant volumes to replace takeaways from their yards. Sales activity on the dry side of the Coastal species lumber market improved, leading to firmer pricing. Early discounts helped clean up buildups at mills, allowing for prices later in the week to closely mirror those early Monday. Meanwhile, green Doug Fir prices sagged as a result of limited demand. Sales activity in the Inland lumber market added little to the forward pace of the market, starting as it did following a major holiday, and with buyers convinced they could extract discounts from mills. Most mills were not of a mind to move off their prices, since they have log and other issues that limit their production levels. Eastern White Pine producers are seeing a little slackening of the market pace, following several weeks of reasonably decent buying. Ponderosa Pine #2 Common boards are holding on all items, according to most sources, although a little 1×12 has begun to show up. Prices for #3 Common are very firm or slightly aggressive. Domestic Ponderosa Pine lumber in industrial grades is “very balanced and extremely stable in price,” according to a source. Radiata Pine is strong on all fronts. In addition to strong moulding prices, blanks are selling at $1,120 to $1,140. Most Western Red Cedar prices were relatively firm or edged higher, boosted by moderately improved demand and an increasing shortage of supplies.
Panels: In all regions, OSB mills have gained the control of the market, with the result that some regions show substantial price changes. One exception was in the West, where prices firmed but remained unchanged. Some Southern Pine plywood mills applied a little grease to the wheels in the form of discounts early and were rewarded by improved sales activity from Wednesday through the week’s end. Sales activity in the Western Fir plywood market perked up at midweek, enabling mills to establish some firmness to sheathing prices. Producers discounted volumes early, which helped attract broader market share. Over the course of the last three weeks, Canadian plywood has maintained consistent mill selling levels. As has been the case over the past several weeks, particleboard and MDF producers continued to increase prices, influenced more by increases in production costs than demand. Mills continued to sell both MDF and particleboard at rates either level with or exceeding weekly output.
Industry Dashboard for April 16, 2012
Half the stocks on the Home Channel Stock Roundup are in negative territory for the month, and half are in positive. Compared with last year, though, the majority of stocks are showing strong growth.
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