Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for March 7, 2014

*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: Despite a lack of demand in the SPF lumber market, producers continued to do little discounting, due in large part to a lack of railcar availability. Some mills did not oppose building a little inventory, perceiving an upswing in sales once the weather warms. While Southern Pine lumber sales maintained a steady pace in some areas, others suffered through another wave of ice and snow and the reduced lumber consumption. Mill order files, notably stronger for certain items, played a part in prices rising unevenly. A moderately slower sales pace forced Coastal species lumber producers to lower prices of some items. Many mill quotes and shipments were intended for jobs. Inland lumber prices are quite firm. Mills are not uncomfortable with the pace, because they have modest inventories and feel little urgency to move wood. Radiata Pine users were alerted to the closure of a key New Zealand company this week. Radiata Pine prices were stable and firm. At this point, Ponderosa Pine industrial lumber is holding firmly to current levels, as both producers and remanners prepare for the onset of spring. Ponderosa Pine 4/4 boards show excellent activity in #3 Common, and the #2&Btr Commons are best in the narrow widths. The demand for #3 Common comes from a wide variety of end users, especially among export users. Eastern White Pine producers report that “bottled up” business is waiting for mellower weather. Low grades are very strong. Western Red Cedar price increases in stride, even though takeaways from many yards have not increased. The persistent and late winter weather has more traders concerned about a shorter building season and the amount of work that will need to take place during that period. 

Panels: OSB markets are still slow, despite the sense of expectation that emerges from a number of industry participants. Prices are quite stable, with the exception of a few adjustments in the West and a little bit of an upward move in the North Central region. A slower pace to the Southern Pine plywood market did nothing to erode traders’ optimism regarding market potential in the coming weeks. Producers maintained some cushion, carrying order files into the week of March 17. Several yards were closed early in the week due to icy conditions. Western Fir plywood producers reported order files extending into the week of March 17. Prices held, although some discounts of $5 or less did appear. Canadian plywood producers indicate that they are not interested in any volume of orders at current price levels, considering the market to be on the verge of an upswing. Given the fact that the market has assumed no momentum because of inclement weather, a sense of being “on hold” dominates. Momentum to set particleboard and MDF pricing at higher levels grew. Demand was strong enough for mills to often sell more than the week’s production, but mills cited resin costs as the primary reason for the increases.

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