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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 Dec. 24, 2010
*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 mill order files, extending into at least the first week of January prompted higher mill quotes. Low inventories in the distribution channel kept buyers engaged. Sales activity in the Southern Pine lumber market was "spotty," but prices continued to gain upward momentum. Distributors purchased higher priced, calculated volumes, blending them with lower priced inventory. Buyers of Coastal species lumber continued to purchase moderate volumes, just enough to keep most prices stable. Balance, however, was tenuous in dry items, noted a producer. Inland lumber species have been operating in a narrow price range over the last three or four weeks. This week, both Fir-Larch and Hem-Fir show some movement off the peaks. Both Ponderosa Pine Mld&Btr and Shop show signs of bottoming, and Shop prices have definitely begun to move up. Board prices have risen again this week on both 1×4 and 1×6 #2 Ponderosa Pine Common, and 1×8 #2 "is hot," according to a producer. The price of Idaho White Pine Sterling has held, and Eastern White Pine is also stable. Overall, Western Red Cedar prices were flat, with a smattering of softness in some items. Winter weather brought consumption to a standstill in the upper Midwest. Moderate volumes shipped into Texas.
PANELS: Production curtailments scheduled over the next month left availability limited in the Western Fir plywood market, but demand was only moderate, leaving prices basically flat. Sales activity increased early for most Southern Pine plywood producers, as buyers entered the market in greater numbers to purchase early January needs. Mills garnered order files extending into at least Jan. 3, aided by holiday production curtailments. Based on some of the sales made this week, OSB remains a stable market, but it has assumed some vulnerability. Despite the fact that Canadian plywood mills have order files stretching as far as the last week in January, in one case, and the inclement weather dominating parts of the country, "Some good western activity" took place. Some modest price increases in particleboard in the Southeast give evidence of the hopes of the industry for activity following Jan. 1. Regionally, only the Southeast showed any change in price, all other areas holding steady.
Source: RISI’s Crow’s Weekly Market Report
In Australia, Lowe’s venture acquires five stores
Danks, the hardware wholesaler that Lowe’s and Woolworths took over last year, acquired Canberra, Australia-based Magnet Mart.
The five Magnet Mart stores, which are located in Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales, will be operated by Danks as company-owned stores and will retain their name.
Home Depot tests downsized kitchen showrooms
Home Depot is tinkering with the idea of cutting back the space dedicated to kitchen showrooms. "We’re piloting the removal of up to 40% of the space dedicated to kitchen showrooms," said Craig Menear, Home Depot’s EVP merchandising, during the company’s recent investor and analyst conference.
The reason, according to Menear: The kitchen industry is down about 50% from three years ago. A typical Home Depot store has about 1,500 sq. ft. devoted to showrooms and kitchens. The plan would be to use the space more efficiently, including introducing more space for assembled cabinets, and increased emphasis on refacing programs, he said.
"Reducing our kitchen space and showrooms allows us to make better utilization and productivity of that space," Menear added.