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WOLF survey shows uptick in buyer optimism

BY Ken Clark

York, Pa.-based cabinet supplier WOLF reported a slight increase in its Key Buyer Index for March.

The March KBI score of 66.67 was up from the February KBI of 65.67.

“This modest increase suggests that building materials buyers at selected independent LBM dealers in the eastern United States remain bullish on the housing economy in that region of the country, but have slowed their buying slightly as a result of harsh winter weather in parts of the east (especially in New England) and delayed effects of Hurricane Sandy (in the Middle Atlantic States),” the company said. 

The KBI is based on a poll of 141 suppliers. A score of 50 reflects a neutral outlook, a score above 50 reflects a positive outlook, and a score below 50 reflects a negative outlook.

The largest KBI score for kitchen and bath cabinetry, 76.19, came from respondents in the Northeast. The Middle Atlantic also returned a high KBI score of 73.64.

WOLF describes itself as the largest supplier of kitchen cabinets in the United States and a leading provider of building products in 28 states along the East Coast.

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Lennox sells Service Experts business

BY Ken Clark

Dallas-based Lennox International Inc. sold its Service Experts business to a majority-owned entity of American Capital.

The all-cash deal closed on March 22 and includes a two-year equipment supply agreement. Terms of the sale and supply agreement were not disclosed.

Lennox International is a global leader in the heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration markets.

Service Experts operates company-owned heating and cooling service centers providing sales, installation, maintenance and repair service functions to the residential and light commercial markets, according to the company website.

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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 March 22, 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: Trading in the SPF market slowed, but mill prices remained strong, even rising a few dollars in some instances. Weather again hampered sales. A sharp decline in futures early also took steam out of the market. Buyers continued to order Southern Pine lumber volumes at a decent rate, but not as eagerly as the week prior. Mill order files and moderate demand kept upward pressure on most #2 dimension prices. Increases of $5 to $10 were typical. Coastal species lumber trading was strong and steady. Good consumption rates brought buyers back into the market to replenish. Traders often noted the significant amount of jobs taking delivery, waiting on shipments or quoted. The market for Inland species lumber started on a quieter note than in previous weeks. Extended mill order files and limited mill offerings kept buyers on the sidelines. Wholesalers reported steady sales of both truckload and LTL volumes out of reloads. Radiata Pine remained in short supply for Mldg&Btr and Shop was unavailable. Limited offerings of Mldg&Btr were quickly snapped up, often at a premium. The markets for Moulding and Shop remained a struggle for Ponderosa Pine producers. Control of the Ponderosa Pine board market remained in the hands of producers, although sales levels quieted. The slower pace was attributed to lengthy order files, as well as strong pricing. Eastern White Pine producers reported good sales volumes, especially for 12" in both Premium and Standard. Sales of ESLP were steady and prices were slightly higher in some instances. Western Red Cedar producers continued to wait on wood to move through the distribution system before seeing what kind of volumes their customers would need to replenish their inventories.

Panels: OSB producers remained on the sidelines, relying on their order files to help them get through the slow period that has persisted. Most mill offerings were light in volume and firm or higher priced. Southern Pine plywood mills reported a quieter tone to the market but still kept lead times of two to three weeks. Prices for thick rated sheathing items were the most likely to rise across all three zones. While other markets enjoyed steady demand, Western Fir plywood sales remained skimpy in comparison. Producers bemoaned the wintry weather in the northern reaches of the U.S. Canadian plywood continued to struggle a bit. Producers, anticipating better demand to come in the near future, tried to hold prices, even though many of them had light order files. Both western producers and buyers of particleboard noted modest but noteworthy improvements in that market. The market for MDF remained strong. The frenzy earlier this year among buyers to secure supplies has subsided and the market appears more orderly.

For more on RISI, click here.

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