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RISI Crow’s Market Recap

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: SPF pricing continued to crumble, as producers in both eastern and western Canada scrambled to find orders to load railcars. Traders frequently reported the market in disarray with regard to pricing and quotes, with urgency among mills to sell a particular product varying widely. As has been the case for several weeks now, most Southern Pine prices remained weak, again with the exception of 2×4. Buyers reported ample availability in the market. An easily accessible supply contributed significantly to a conservative approach to purchasing. Coastal species traders described the week as “a grind,” trying to sell to customers fearful of price direction and the speed at which prices declined. Buyers filled in inventories where necessary, often by purchasing highly mixed truck or carload volumes. Mills lowered quotes and negotiated off those levels. Inland lumber gave very clear signs that it is still infirm, one comment calling it “very mediocre.” Prices of both Fir-Larch and Hem-Fir languished further, shedding from $5-25, depending on the item. Stud pricing was quoted and sold at a variety of levels the week prior failed to converge and seemed to grow more disparate. Urgency to sell into a market where buyers showed scant interest placed even more downward pressure on prices. Wholesalers led the charge downward in some markets, while producers were not as inclined to sell at the lowest levels. The industrial lumber industry lacks any particular energy, with Ponderosa Pine prices holding steadily to recent marks. The #3 Shop is readily available, and some selective discounting has been reported there, especially for large volumes. At this point, both Selects and Commons are “lackluster,” to use the industry’s phrase. Prices have been fairly stable, but some confusion has arisen regarding moulding imports and how that market can affect Ponderosa Pine. The modest sales pace engulfing the Western Red Cedar market remained in place. Most traders blamed the lack of demand on price escalation beginning when the potential for duties on Canadian lumber entering the US materialized.

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Sept. 21, 2018.

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

Panels: OSB activity was quiet this week. Very little was done at any level, as there was no appetite for anything beyond immediate needs. Two-tiered markets developed regionally. Price hikes in Southern Pine plywood eased following the prior week’s Hurricane-generated increases. Producers reported slower, more sporadic sales activity. Buyers awaited delivery of previously purchased volumes and chased down orders. Mill order files stretching into the weeks of October 1 and 8 underpinned firm to higher pricing. After a mild uptick in Western Fir plywood sales the prior week, influenced to some degree by Hurricane Florence, sales slowed and order files eroded. Seeing lead times diminish to next week, some mills approached the market more aggressively, lowering sheathing prices. Canadian plywood activity was no better this week than last, remaining anemic. Sources felt that jitters surrounding the fate of NAFTA helped dampen demand, and everyone wonders what happened to the fall buy. Particleboard sales remained “okay” to “strong,” largely depending on the region and a particular producer’s customer base. Buyers continued to place MDF orders at a strong pace in both the East and West. Order files at mills stretched out into late October.

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