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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: A lethargic pace persisted in SPF trading, although modest improvement was reported by some traders. Any urgency on the part of producers to sell and customers to buy was minimal. The short week coming off the holiday was often cited as a reason for light activity. Producers resumed production at some mills. Trading in the Southern Pine market remained subdued. Producers discounted where necessary on a wide array of items. Traders justifiably laid much of the blame for the market’s malaise on persistent wet weather throughout much of the South. Rains cutoff log supplies to several mills, forcing some curtailments. Coastal species producers quoted prices near those established the week prior, tending to promote a flat price structure in the market. Others offered more problematic items at moderately lower prices to attract bidders. Buyers expected more availability after mills began to ramp up production after the holidays. Inland activity was best illustrated by a source who said, “Quiet sales, flat prices.” Prices were near recent levels. Actual buying activity was generally limited to hole-filling and purchasing for immediate needs, without building inventories. Stud sales were lackluster, but any discounting was usually limited. Buyers noted “a little wiggle room” in some mill prices, but market prices moved little in most instances. A lack of urgency in the marketplace was noted by traders. Conditions have changed little in either Ponderosa Pine or Radiata Pine industrial lumber. Prices have not moved for most producers, but selling levels have become more elastic, and some notable discounts have taken place. Ponderosa Pine 4/4 boards were quiet following the holiday. Prices of Selects held firm. Commons showed some weakness in both #3 and #4. Western Red Cedar producers reported largely fill-in buying from customers. Many customers remained away from their offices during the week, but traders questioned whether their availability would have made much difference in sales activity. Most quotes held steady.

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Jan. 4, 2019.

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

Panels: OSB prices leveled this week and moved up a few dollars at mill level in the North Central and Mid-Atlantic. Some railcar deals were quietly reported, and sources said the abbreviated week was slow. Order files were prompt to the week of January 28. Any changes in Southern Pine plywood buying from past weeks were minor and influenced pricing little. Mill rated sheathing offerings ranged from next week out to the week of January 21. Producers tried to hold the line with regard to pricing, but buildups occasionally forced deep discounts. Western Fir plywood producers reported a moderate pickup in sales activity. Eastern buyers stepped in to purchase carload volumes at an increased rate, helping absorb some of those quicker shipping volumes available in the market for many weeks. Order files fell into the weeks of January 21 or sooner. Canadian plywood activity was slow this week with the holiday, but firm. Order files are largely into the weeks of February 4 and 11. Sources said they are looking to next week for a pick-up when everyone is back at their desks. A short business week at particleboard and MDF mills and their customers limited activity in the market. Producers reported being “cautiously optimistic” about the upcoming year, although some remained wary of the potential for an oversupplied particleboard market.

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