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Retail container traffic to increase in first half of 2012

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The monthly Global Port Tracker report, released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, said that import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to be down 6.8% in February from the same month a year ago. However, volumes should show year-over-year increases through most of the remaining first half of 2012. 

“With consumer confidence building, retailers are optimistic that the economy is recovering but are continuing to be cautious with their inventory levels,” said NRF VP supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold. “Merchants want to be sure that growth will be sustained and that demand will be there to meet supply.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.17 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in December, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 6% from November since holiday merchandise was already on the shelves but up 2% from December 2010 and brought 2011 to a close at 14.8 million TEU, up 0.4% from 2010’s 14.75 million TEU. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.

January 2012 was estimated at 1.17 million TEU, down 3.3% from January 2011, and February, historically the slowest month of the year, is forecast at 1.03 million TEU, down 6.8% from a year ago. Increases are expected to resume in March, forecast at 1.18 million TEU, up 8.6% from last year. April is forecast at 1.25 million TEU, up 2.4%; May at 1.28 million TEU, down 0.7%; and June at 1.28 million, up 3%. The first half of 2012 should total 7.18 million TEU, up 0.5% from the same period last year.

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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. 17, 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: SPF mill sales slowed to a trickle compared with the two prior weeks. Demand for #2&Btr was minimal. Modest sales activity and producers’ order files touching into the week of March 5 left only minor price adjustments at both East and West mills. The current cycle in Southern Pine dimension lumber continued its downward trend for the third consecutive week. Limited demand forced mills to lower dimension prices by $10 or more. Distributors filled inventory holes conservatively in light of falling prices. Demand for Coastal species #2&Btr dimension lumber slowed, but little or no urgency was shown on the part of producers to lower prices. Conditions among low-grade items contrasted with uppers: Demand was strong and prices increased in some instances by double digits. Inland species sales slowed from what was described as the "extremely strong" pace of last week. Some follow-through was reported, but many buyers stepped to the sidelines or turned to secondaries for coverage. Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr sales were steady and prices were firm. Availability of Shop was extremely limited and few sales were reported. Another uneventful week was reported for Ponderosa Pine Moulding and Shop grades. Producers with order files into March were content to wait for buyers to come to the table. As for Ponderosa Pine boards, very little inventory was available at the mills. Order files out to mid-March in some cases kept producers firmly in the driver’s seat. Idaho White Pine producers reported "lots of calls," but most had little inventory to sell. Those that took orders were able to move prices up easily. Sales of ESLP boards were good in both #2&Btr and #3.

Panels: OSB markets were in a familiar cycle. Buyers covered needs the previous two weeks, generating mill order files of a couple of weeks and higher prices. Producers are now relying on those order files to keep prices firm while sales have slowed. The combination of contract volumes and open market sales allowed Southern Pine plywood producers to post order files in the week of March 5. To get there, producers sat on prices, rarely raising quotes but maintaining firm levels. Despite a sluggish week of sales at the mill level, Western Fir plywood prices held up well. Order files in the week of Feb. 27 provided some cushion for mills to prop up prices. Spotty volumes remained available for the week of Feb. 20. Canadian plywood producers report a steady but quieter market than last week. Mill order files out to the week of March 12 or March 19 helped keep prices on firm ground. For particleboard producers, February started slightly slower than what January produced in the way of demand. MDF sales have improved over the past two weeks.

For more on RISI, click here

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Customer service strategy: A free car

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Valley Forge, Pa.-based CertainTeed Roofing gave away a new car in the name of customer service, and through a promotion called "On the Road Again." 

“The ‘On the Road Again’ promotion is a way for us to show our appreciation to loyal customers like Jack Impriano,” said Jay Butch, director of contractor programs for CertainTeed Roofing.

Impriano Roofing and Siding sold its share of SureStart Plus warranties, which provide homeowners with the extended warranty coverage. As a result, it qualified for the contest that is giving away a new Ford Mustang GT, and nine 2011 Harley Davidson Sportsters. Impriano won the car.

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