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RISI Crow’s Market Recap

The latest price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction.

BY HBSDealer Staff

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: Light trading forced SPF producers to fall back on order files to maintain price levels. At the secondary level, wholesalers sold at prices below those quoted by mills. Deep losses in futures contributed to skepticism regarding the stability of market prices. Traders reported ample spruce imports from Europe available along the East Coast at lower prices. Southern Pine producers reported a lackluster trading pace. Most prices, however, remained stable to higher, with the exception once again in 2×10. Yards continued to sell off inventories with elevated costs prior to year’s end. Others kept inventory low due to year-end inventory taxes. The Coastal species market got off to a slow start as traders returned following the long weekend and picked up only moderately for the remainder of the week. However, production cutbacks helped buoy the market, with limited supplies of some items helping to boost prices. Inland producers reported a grinding market following the holiday. Prices, however, did not show general weakening, although a few losses took place. The market was generally quiet and flat. Stud sales slowed. Producers overall showed little urgency to sell, having garnered order files into December. Buyers also exhibited limited urgency, digesting prior purchases. A few producers entertained counters of a couple of dollars just to keep volumes moving. Industrial lumber in both Ponderosa Pine and Radiata Pine is stable in Mldg&Btr and much of the Shop. Circumstances on the moulding production side, however, create buying opportunities in Shop. Ponderosa Pine Selects and Commons, along with most other pines, were quite stable in the upper grades, showing less firmness in the #3 and #4 Commons. Mill inventories were reportedly strong enough to offer potential buyers some of the selective tallies they seek, but they are fullest in the less-popular lower grades. Producers reported a mix of Western Red Cedar activity as much of the market turned its focus to early 2019. Some producers experienced limited sales, especially into the US. Others saw an uptick in interest, much of it in the form of quotes.

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Nov. 30, 2018.

Western: regional species perimeter foundation
Southern: regional species slab construction

Panels: OSB markets sagged further this week, stuck in a lethargic, end-of-year mode. Several buyers wondered when producers would take downtime, noting that volume deals were made noticeably beneath established price levels. There was little enthusiasm and inventories remained thin. Southern Pine plywood trading continued its lackluster pace, but mills managed to keep order files extended out into early to mid-December. Traders frequently mentioned a lack of urgency within the marketplace. However, buyers did often check on orders, proving their inventories are lean. A plethora of prompt availability kept downward pressure on Western Fir plywood prices. Producers reported a slow beginning to the week and not much improvement as the week progressed. Canadian plywood markets quieted this week from last. Buyers were increasingly reluctant to take positions with order files predominately out into January. Inventories continued being managed low, and even activity among distribution yards had a reportedly slower pace. Particleboard and MDF producers managed production in line with customer’s more limited needs as the calendar and mill order files approached the holidays. Seasonal slowing was widely evident but not absolute.

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