Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for March 29, 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.

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Lumber: Trading in the SPF lumber market was lackluster until Thursday. That is when futures made an up-limit move, sending buyers into the market to either purchase or determine where the market was going. Buyers remaining on the sidelines and mills with a variety of approaches toward the market generated mixed pricing in the Southern Pine lumber market. Steady sales into Texas helped keep West prices from tumbling. Some producers used month-end discounting or less aggressive price increases to bolster their order files. Trading was not quite as active as it has been in recent weeks in Coastal species markets. However, any drag on prices only stopped them from moving higher and did not apply any downward pressure. Buyers of Inland species lumber continued to look for coverage, many times to no avail. Producers reported broken tallies and limited volumes available. Buyers wanted the quickest shipping volumes. Reports of open market sales of Radiata Pine Shop were far and few. Ponderosa Pine producers reported continued steady sales of low grade Shop lumber while sales of the upper grades remained quiet. Activity in the Ponderosa Pine board market was muted, partially due to lack of offering from producers and partially from a shortened week, as many folks took Good Friday off. With Western Red Cedar not moving from yards as well as expected, some buyers resisted price increases issued by producers for April. Weather continued to garner much of the blame for the bottleneck in the distribution chain.

Panels: Weather continued to be the top subject in OSB market discussions. Asking prices at the mill level remained firm while sales of wood in the hands of secondaries often took place $5 to $15 lower. Sales activity picked up at midweek in the Southern Pine plywood market, propelling prices higher and pushing mill order files out into the latter half of April. Much of the activity surrounded thick rated sheathing panels, causing those prices to increase the most. Trading activity in the Western Fir plywood market improved, sending what had been listless sheathing and underlayment prices higher. Much of the increased demand emerged at midweek into Thursday before the market slowed because of the holiday weekend. Market dynamics in particleboard and MDF remained much the same, with MDF in short supply and particleboard demand lacking in the West but much better in the East.

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