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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 Feb. 18, 2011

*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: Some momentum from the previous week carried over, positioning a few SPF dimension lumber prices higher. Trading after Tuesday quieted, and the market settled into a slower pace for the remainder of the week. The sun popped out in the South, and snow melted further North, sending buyers looking for Southern Pine lumber volumes. Monday, mills were raising prices, and by Friday, prices had reached levels $10 to $15 higher. Mills sales of Coastal species lumber consisted of enough volume to maintain most price levels. Buyers continued to focus much of their attention on narrow widths, which allowed those prices in both dry Doug Fir and Hem-Fir to gain $5. Some of the Inland species have made small but significant gains over the last week. Buyers, seeing the numbers reduced last week, saw an opportunity to place some timely orders. Some subtle but definite signs have begun to show that the market is beginning to shake off winter. Ponderosa Pine #2&Btr Shop is tight, as is all Radiata Pine Shop. Prices of Mldg&Btr in both species are bumping higher. Ponderosa Pine boards are strongest in #2&Btr Common, which has picked up well as retail outlets have emerged from snow and ice. All #3 boards, however, remain in some flux. Idaho White Pine is largely a non-entity, because no one presently has any volume to quote. Eastern White Pine producers report an increase in incoming calls, based on the fact that buyers "still have no inventories," according to one source. Western Red Cedar consumption was slightly improved, but it telegraphed back to producers only slightly. Moderately better sales activity was reported by a few mills at midweek.

PANELS: A late round of buying last Friday pushed Western Fir plywood prices slightly higher. Early follow-through orders came in at a moderate pace, but overall, the market lacked energy. Despite a slower pace than the week prior, an upbeat tone existed among Southern Pine plywood traders. Enough plywood was traded that more mills were able to establish order files into the week of Feb. 28. OSB price increases, which occurred broadly across the continent, have now ceased, with minor exceptions, and in some cases slight retrenchments have taken place. Canadian plywood prices are moot, since discounting does not usually bring additional sales. Buyers are waiting, at this point, for clear signs from retailers that they have begun to restock for spring sales. Overall, particleboard and MDF remain more readily available than demand, creating an ongoing competitive tone.

Source: RISI’s Crow’s Weekly Market Report

For more on RISI, click here.

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Container traffic to grow 6% in first half of 2011

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to grow 11% in February over the same month last year, and increase 6% over the first half of 2011, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

“Strong growth in 2010 has retailers cautiously optimistic that the economic recovery is finally taking hold,” said Jonathan Gold, VP supply chain and customs policy for NRF. “While high unemployment and rising commodity prices are cause for concern, retailers are encouraged by six consecutive months of retail sales gains and improved consumer confidence.”

U.S. ports handled 1.14 million TEU in December, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. (One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.) That was down 7% from November as the holiday season wound down, but up 5% from December 2009. It was the 13th month in a row to show a year-over-year improvement after December 2009 broke a 28-month streak of year-over-year declines.

January remained steady at 1.14 million TEU, a 6% increase over January 2010. February is forecast at 1.11 million TEU, up 11% over last year, with March at 1.16, up 8%; April at 1.22 million TEU, up 7%; May at 1.3 million TEU, up 3%; and June at 1.37 million TEU, up 4%. 

The first half of 2011 is forecast at 7.3 million TEU, up 6% from the first half of 2010. That compares with 17% growth in the first half of 2010 over the first half of 2009. For the full year, 2010 totaled 14.7 million TEU, a 16% increase over 2009. The percentages were high because 2009’s 12.7 million TEU was the lowest level seen since 2003. 

The U.S. ports covered by Port Tracker are: Los Angeles/Long Beach,  Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast; and Houston on the Gulf Coast. 

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Lowe’s promotes “the gift of plants”

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home improvement giant Lowe’s is showing a sensitive side through a merchandising effort spotted in a Tampa, Fla., store. The store is promoting flowers — "a gift as special as she is," according to the display’s signage — next to grills and fasteners. 

A conspicuous pink and red island display near the front of the store has racks of bromeliads, anthuriums and orchids. A bilingual sign reads: "Surprise her with the gift of plants."

 

 

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