Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Oct. 12, 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: After light trading early, the SPF lumber market exhibited improvement Thursday. Trading increased, driven by a strong upward futures move, the need for buyers to purchase and news of large volumes sales to China. Trading was sluggish in Southern Pine lumber, forcing lower prices once again into the market. Buyers picked around the edges where price floors have been established, such as in 2×10 #2 and Standard decking. Inquiry levels in the Coastal species lumber market increased at midweek and turned into more orders by Thursday. With Asian markets more willing to participate at current Hem-Fir pricing, some producers chose to sell to those markets rather than domestically. The selection of Inland species lumber offered by producers at a discount diminished, as buyers took advantage of the opportunity. As mills sold off excess inventories they firmed prices and held closer to published list prices. Activity in Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr was light but matched availability. Weak sales of solid linear mouldings kept a lid on Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr sales. Producers reported little activity outside contract and program sales for either Mldg&Btr or Shop grades. The Ponderosa Pine board market continued to be a supply driven. Producers reported little in the way of excess inventory, but also noted quiet sales activity. Eastern White Pine producers reported a "slow and steady" market and firm pricing. ESLP sales remained on the quiet side. Western Red Cedar producers reported a steady or slightly slower pace, pointing to the calendar as a reason for any decline in demand. Order files at mills often extended into mid November.
Panels: Although OSB markets got off to a slower than usual start due to Thanksgiving in Canada and Columbus day in the U.S., signs of a firming trend in some regions began to appear later in the week. Light volumes of contract wood in the hands of secondaries contributed to the trend. Southern Pine plywood trading activity improved in the latter half of the week, firming prices and pushing mill order files out into the week of October 22. Traders were convinced that prices had found a bottom. Double digit price declines in Western Fir plywood failed to generate much business. Improved sales activity in western markets did materialize, but sales into the East remained limited. The market for Canadian plywood took a dramatic turn, as producers’ priced aggressively in order to extend mill order files. Concerns regarding MDF availability now and in 2013 persisted. Although MDF order files at mills were not as lengthy as a few months ago, supplies remained tight. Particleboard sales were more of a struggle, particularly in the West.
September retail sales rose more than forecast
A report released Monday by the Commerce Department showed that retail sales in the U.S. climbed more than anticipated in September, boosted by unexpected increases in household spending.
Sales advanced 1.1% in September, on the heels on a 1.2% increase in August that was the biggest since October 2010. The median forecast of 77 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.8% rise in September.
Still, there are concerns that escalating energy costs and looming tax changes at the end of the year may prevent consumer spending from strengthening much more.
There is “some resilience on the part of the consumer,” Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, told Bloomberg. “We are going to continue to see slow, but steady, growth.”
Twelve of 13 major categories showed gains in September. Retail sales excluding autos increased 1.1%, the most since January, and surpassing projections of a 0.7% gain and led by electronics retailers’ 4.5% jump in sales.