Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for July 19, 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: Activity levels remained strong enough in the SPF lumber market to push prices higher again. Futures gains following the expiration of July’s contract assisted the market’s fluidity. Summer shutdowns at mills in eastern Canada placed limits on supplies. Southern Pine lumber prices continued their move higher, spurred by mill order files often extending 2 weeks. Buyers replenishing yard inventories often found broken tallies at mills. Tight truck availability remained bothersome. Prices among Coastal species gathered more upward momentum, driven by steady and improved demand. Tighter availability drove buyers to search harder for specific items, including long lengths. Buyers also discovered reduced availability for dry Doug Fir 2×6 #2&Btr. Inland lumber prices continue upward in an orderly progression. Not a lot of lumber is available in the market. Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr is firmer, with less talk of excess stock being available. Radiata Shop is very firm, most U.S. distributors reporting that they cannot get any. Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr remains unchanged in price in either 5/4 or 6/4 thickness. Producers report that demand is sufficient to keep them “booked out,” with some mills having files into the first week of August. Losses of $5 were common among Ponderosa Pine 1×4, 1×6 and 1×8 in both #2 and #3 Common, but #4 narrows were more stable. Eastern White Pine producers report a very stable market from both the pricing and demand perspectives. Western Red Cedar sales at mills continued the same pattern, one in which buyers tended to purchase fill-in volumes consisting of a mix of items. Retailers held little inventory whenever their suppliers were willing to provide highly mixed tallies.
Panels: The various regional segments of the OSB industry are not moving in concert right now. Significant differences in buying activity are causing some regions to look very good, while others are simply on hold, at best. Having moved order files out into the middle of August, Southern Pine plywood mills raised prices and went off the market at various intervals. Customer participation was broad based. Wholesalers purchased what could ship in the front half of August. Although not as strong as the week prior, Western Fir plywood mills experienced enough demand to boost prices higher. Demand was broad-based, as Northeast buyers continued to contribute to sales activity. The hectic pace of Canadian plywood that dominated the market in previous weeks has clearly subsided. The market itself, however, shows no weakness. The particleboard market continued its pedestrian pace, somewhat slower than prior to the Fourth of July holiday but still moving well enough to bring some encouragement to market participants. Prices for MDF remained firm.
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June’s existing-home sales take a step back
June’s existing home sales hit a setback in an otherwise forward-moving trajectory, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Total existing-home sales took a dip of 1.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million, down from 5.14 million in May.
Despite the lag, June’s figures remain above year-ago levels by a margin of 15.2%. June also marks the seventh straight month of gains in median prices, and the national median existing-home price was $214,200, up 13.5% from June 2012.
Total housing inventory went up 1.9% to 2.19 million available homes for sale, extending May’s supply figures to 5.2 months. This is below last year’s inventory of 6.4 months.
“Affordability conditions remain favorable in most of the country, and we’re still dealing with a large pent-up demand,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “However, higher mortgage interest rates will bite into high-cost regions of California, Hawaii and the New York City metro area market.”
NAR president Gary Thomas also remarked that rising values paint an optimistic picture for homeowners, some of whom are now ready to buy another home after going underwater with their mortgages.