Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Aug. 26, 2011

*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: Soft pricing early in the SPF lumber market firmed Wednesday, leading to higher prices by the end of the day. Early discounts in western 2x4 #2&Btr dropped Tuesday's market level to $220 before rising back closer to $230 by Thursday. In the words of several Southern Pine lumber traders, sales activity in the market was "dead." A combination of limited business throughout the pipeline and buyers staying on the sidelines in response to persistent price weakness tamped down demand at mills. Demand for dry Coastal species lumber improved moderately, allowing producers to limit discounts in some instances. Recent price weakness generated more interest out of China, a sign that a seasonal slowing in that country is coming to an end. Inland lumber producers reported a quiet week, punctuated by one day of increased activity. A few buyers stepped in mid-week and purchased. This activity was short-lived, and was not enough to move prices. The market for boards was steady but nothing spectacular. Producers relied on order files into September to hold #2&Btr prices, while they waited for buyers to come off the fence. Ponderosa Pine producers reported both inquiry and sales of Mldg&Btr were quiet. Business for Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr also backed off slightly. With every description of the Western Red Cedar market representing slight improvements in the market, there was one noting little change or another describing a summer slowdown.

Panels: Market activity for OSB started the week out on a quiet note, but improved by week's end. The market developed a firmer tone, and most regions were able to make back the ground lost earlier. Southern Pine plywood buying in response to Hurricane Irene's projected path up the eastern coastline helped firm Eastside rated sheathing prices early after those same prices declined the week prior. Despite any potential for significant volumes moving into the distribution channel prior to the storm, traders noted that buyers remained cautious. After a sluggish start to the week in Western Fir plywood, sales activity improved markedly. The added sales were, in large part, due to preparation in the Northeast for Hurricane Irene. Canadian plywood producers reported a week of steady sales and improving prices. Across the regions, prices were up and order files were extended. Traders attributed the strength in the market to several factors such as lack of inventory in the field and a favorable exchange rate. Buyers filling inventory holes found stable particleboard and MDF pricing in those markets. After production cost increases and subsequently higher pricing, the market has settled.

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