Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Sept. 20, 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: SPF mills and wholesalers continued to report good sales activity, leading to higher prices for most items. Extended order files at mills often forced buyers to look for needs from secondaries, lending to strong activity at that level. Sales remained steady in the Southern Pine lumber market, again leading to higher prices for most items. Traders often cited good weather, which allowed construction activities to progress uninterrupted, as a factor. Sales activity remained strong enough in Coastal species to maintain upward pressure on prices. Along with solid domestic demand, good lumber sales to China persisted, and high log costs kept fiber availability limited. Light field inventories and limited offerings from producers helped add strength to the Inland species lumber market. Wholesalers who usually carry reload inventory reported few or no offerings. Radiata Pine traders reported a quite market. Buyers who bought heavily over the past six months were content to sit it out and wait for orders already placed for December delivery. Ponderosa Pine Shop prices were unchanged although a few deals were reported for lower grades. Producers of Ponderosa Pine Selects and Commons reported another steady week of sales. Ponderosa Pine #2&Btr sold easily at higher numbers, especially for 1×6 wider. Some Eastern White Pine producers reduced hours in order to conserve log decks. Buyers of ESLP found prices firm, with mill order files well into October. Wanting to keep Western Red Cedar inventories in check, buyers reduced inventories or cleaned up volumes and then looked to producers to fill prompt needs. With mills often carrying order files extending out two to four weeks, finding quick shipping volumes was not always an easy endeavor.
Panels: The western region continued to be the most active OSB market. Producers took the opportunity to build order file before raising prices. Improving demand from a wide range of buyers helped Southern Pine plywood mills promote firm or slightly higher prices. Producers established order files into the week of October 7. Wholesalers again participated after selling large shares of their prior purchases. After a flat beginning to the week, the sales pace in the Western Fir plywood market improved, providing enough momentum for producers to nudge some prices higher. Both buyers and sellers of Canadian plywood appeared to be on the sidelines. Producers who had order files into mid October were content to quote at published levels and reported getting a few orders at that level or even slightly above. Some particleboard producers reported steady sales while others noted a slightly slower pace. Prices, however, remained steady. Buyers reported seizing on opportunities to purchase MDF from a few producers at discounts of $10 and more.
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Home Depot appoints Helena Foulkes to its board
Home Depot has a new director on board: Helena B. Foulkes, 49, will serve as a member of the Finance and Leadership Development & Compensation Committees.
"I’m pleased to welcome Helena to our board and look forward to the unique insight she brings from her years of retail experience and leadership," said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO.
Foulkes is currently executive VP and chief healthcare strategy and marketing officer for CVS Caremark Corporation, where she has worked for the past 15 years. She has an extensive background in retail marketing strategies and merchandising, with positions also held in strategic planning, visual merchandising and category management at CVS.
The company has a total of 11 directors, all but one of whom are independent from Home Depot.
Home Depot sends part-time workers to public healthcare exchanges
Home Depot will be shifting health coverage for roughly 20,000 part-time workers, who will qualify to seek plans on the new public marketplace exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, according to mutliple media reports.
The part-timers were previously covered under a limited liability medical plan that provided coverage of up to $20,000. Companies will be unable to offer these plans after Dec. 31. Enrollment for government-subsidized healthcare begins Oct. 1.
Though health coverage will be cut for part-timers, Home Depot will continue providing dental, vision, critical illness, disability, back-up dependent care and enrollment in Future Builder 401(k) plans. Part-time workers make up about 5% of Home Depot’s total workforce.
Speculation regarding the change is varied. Some experts believe the exchanges will offer better coverage at a lower cost, while others worry that an unintended consequence of the law will involve more big businesses opting out of coverage for part-timers.
Home Depot spokesperson Stephen Holmes told HCN that workers will have more options for comprehensive coverage on the new marketplace.
Home Depot’s announcement comes on the heels of a similar move by Trader Joe’s, whose part-time workers will also seek coverage on the public exchanges. Some employers, most notably Walgreens, will offer insurance through a private exchange called the Aon Hewitt Corporate Health Exchange.