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Stimson Lumber will close locations in Montana, Idaho

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Stimson Lumber will close its mill in Bonner, Mont., according to a report in the Missoulian (Missoula County, Mont.) newspaper.

The mill will close indefinitely due to the effects of a downturn in the North American housing market and lower lumber demand, according to the report.

The mill employs around 100 workers, who were given 60-day notices this week as the plant prepares for closure. Additionally, the company plans to shut down operations at a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, plant, which employs about 60 people.

Based on Portland, Ore., Stimson Lumber has assets and operations in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

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Construction outlook positive for health care, public safety

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A newly released report by FMI, a consulting and investment banking firm to the building and construction industry, predicts that worsening economic conditions may forestall the housing recovery until 2009, with this year’s residential building activity declining 10 percent for single-family housing, 7 percent for multi-family and 2 percent for remodeling.

The Construction Outlook report also saw decreases in the commercial, office, religious, amusement and leisure segments, all of which are tied into the economy. But certain publicly funded non-residential sectors — health care, educational, public safety and Homeland Security — will fare better, according to FMI. Health care construction will benefit from facility upgrades across the country; educational institutions will fund new projects with endowments or voter-approved bonds in several states; new police and fire stations, as well as prisons, are in the construction pipeline; Homeland Security improvements to U.S. ports and border areas are underway; and airport delays will necessitate expansion projects.

The full report, available at www.fminet.com, also addresses manufacturing-related construction, which FMI believes will remain flat in 2008 and 2009 based on “several multi-billion dollar projects under construction at the same time.” Increases in cement capacity, refineries and steel manufacturing will contribute to these gains, the research said.

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Builder confidence unchanged says NAHB

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Builder confidence in single-family homes remained unchanged for March. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the NAHB/Wells Fargo housing market index remained at 20, close to its historic low of 18 set in December 2007.

The HMI is derived from a monthly survey to gauge builders’ perceptions of the single-family housing market in the coming six months as good, fair or poor. It also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as either high to very high, average or low to very low. A score over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

“Our surveys confirm what I’ve been hearing personally from builders across the country, which is that interested buyers are out there, but they are either reluctant to go ahead with a home purchase or they are unable to find mortgage financing they can afford,” said NAHB president Sandy Dunn, a home builder from Point Pleasant, W.Va.

Regionally, the Northeast posted a two-point decline to 21, the Midwest held even at 16, the South reported a two-point gain to 26 and the West showed a one-point decline to 15.

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