RISI Crow's Market Recap

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RISI Crow's Market Recap

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: Expectations within the SPF market for the remainder of 2018 were lowered. More traders doubted buyers would change their current mode of purchasing prior to the year’s end. Most prices showed varying amounts of weakness, the strongest managing to hold close to the prior week’s market levels. A continuing casual trading pace in Southern Pine lumber prompted more traders to doubt whether a bump in demand for new-year deliveries would take place. Buyers continued to purchase conservatively, covering near-term needs with mixed loads. Producers needing to move volumes frequently noted they were “chasing” business. Overall sentiment in the Coastal species market grew more bearish as producers increasingly accepted counters and discounted some items. Buyers’ interest in purchasing occurred only out of necessity. Producers spent much of their time making outbound phone calls. Inland lumber markets continued their listlessness, showing even less energy than in recent weeks. Lack of urgency among either buyers or sellers accounted for very slight changes in most lumber items. Mill order files trended toward being thin. Buyer interest was primarily limited to very modest needs-based purchases. Any confidence left in stud markets faded as buyers remained on the sidelines whenever possible. Producers entered the market at various times to unload supplies at deeper discounts than competitors offered. Those price cuts prompted traders to frequently note that “prices are all over the place.” Ponderosa Pine and Radiata Pine industrials showed the effects of some sizable mill inventories, with both species opening for counters on some items in both 5/4 and 6/5 Mldg&Btr and Shop. Ponderosa Pine Selects and Commons adjusted significantly in some of the Commons, as mill inventories finally demanded some action. Western Red Cedar traders reported continued sales for the first quarter of 2019, the degree of activity often dependent on the item. Relatively tight supplies and good demand, consisting of first quarter needs, kept timber prices moving higher. Wide widths in various thicknesses continued to press higher.

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Dec. 14, 2018.

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


Panels: OSB activity was on the slow side this week, again, although spotty improvement was reported, especially in the Southwest region. Most mills were cleaned up for the year, and those with prompt wood to offer listened to counters. Sales activity remained dull in the Southern Pine plywood market. This forced producers to look for orders as they try to move lead times into the new year. Panels remained available for shipment in the weeks of December 17 and 24, despite several producers taking downtime at mills the week of December 24. Buyers of Western Fir plywood showed no indication they are ready to change their habit of purchasing promptly delivered, near-term needs in conservative volumes. Despite limited production, buyers perceived no shortages. Carload orders did improve for some producers as eastern buyers purchased for mid-January deliveries. Canadian plywood markets saw another slow period, though some “tire-kicking” and mild interest was reported at the end of the week. Producers heard offers, but held the line on pricing, taking a “wait and see attitude” for now. Buyers kept inventories light. Some particleboard producers reported mildly lighter sales activity. MDF sales slowed for some producers in the West.