Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Dec. 20, 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.

Lumber: SPF mills in the East and West continued to press prices higher. Strong order files garnered over the past few weeks and upcoming production shutdowns, particularly at eastern mills, kept upward pressure on prices. Buyers needing to fill lean inventories purchased from mills as far out as the middle of January. Demand for Southern Pine dimension improved, allowing mills to clean up inventory and firm prices overall. Trying to move as much volume as possible prior to the end of the year, producers discounted some prompt shipping volumes. Production curtailments at Coastal species mills combined with buyers needing to fill in inventories left most prices firm, with some strong gains in narrow width green Doug Fir. The Inland species market showed signs of firming but not before the prices of many items declined. Mill offerings for quick shipment were limited, and inquiries from customers for next year’s shipment were light. Limited supplies of Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr continued to plague buyers searching for year-end bargains. Producers gaining better returns in other offshore markets continued to move products to those locations. Ponderosa Pine #2 Shop remained in tight supply. Sales for Mldg&Btr to millwork plants improved but prices were unchanged. Sales of #3 and P99 were steady. Ponderosa Pine narrow width boards sold better than wides, generating firm or slightly upward pricing in narrows. Wide widths were not able to maintain their levels and adjusted lower. Eastern White Pine mill order files extended into mid January or further, and prices were firm or priced defensively. Steady ESLP sales at published levels were reported. Mill order file in mid January did not seem to deter buyers from making purchases. The holiday season took control of the Western Red Cedar market, slowing mill sales to a crawl.

Panels: OSB traders reported an uneventful week, as producers had little to offer, and many buyers kept their PO books in their desks. Mill order files extended into mid-January, due to both sales and shutdowns for holidays or maintenance. Moderate demand for Southern Pine plywood and limited production propelled order files at mills into the weeks of December 30 and January 6. As those weeks were achieved, mills increased quotes and succeeded at selling at prices around $5 higher. The combination of moderate demand and production curtailments around the holidays generated higher Western Fir sheathing prices. New orders and some production not coming back on line until the week of January 6 aided in extending mill order files out into the first couple of weeks in January. Distributors of Canadian plywood reported sales out of yards continued despite the pending holidays and winter weather in some regions. Producers fielded calls from customers checking on the status of previous purchases. Some particleboard producers received a boost from distributors scrambling to find quick shipments after experiencing stronger year-end business than was expected. MDF prices held despite some discounting.

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