Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Sept. 30, 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: Prices in the SPF market were weak in both the East and West, as mills tried to find levels in which to bolster eroded order files. Early on, mill quotes dropped to those levels traded the week prior at the secondary level, and losses in futures helped generate lower quotes as the week progressed. Southern Pine lumber mills raised quotes $5 to $15 and had some measure of success at the new levels, but volumes sold were notably less than the few weeks prior. In Coastal species, moderate month-end discounting was used to move both dry and green volumes. Wide widths remained generally weaker than narrows. The market for Inland lumber was quiet. Some buyers sat on the sidelines waiting for a bargain to come along. Even then, need was the determining factor in making the purchase decision. Ponderosa Pine board producers reported another quiet but steady week of activity. Sterling grade led the way in Idaho White Pine. Eastern White Pine prices remained unchanged. Moulding and Shop prices reflected some softness in a few items, but for the most part, the market was stable. The market for imported FJ moulding was quiet. Big-box stores remained in talks and placed orders with Western Red Cedar suppliers for deliveries during the first quarter of next year. As a result, producers are getting an idea of the volumes they will be called on to produce in the coming months to supply big-box stores.

Panels: Although OSB prices are relatively firm, it is due to supply side controls rather than demand. The bulk of business this week was in the form of contract wood and not cash-market purchases. Demand for Southern Pine rated sheathing at the mill level was quiet. Volumes still available at the wholesale level were offered at prices below replacement costs, attracting those buyers needing to make purchases. Western Fir plywood buyers were limited in their needs and somewhat leery of prices hovering either near or at 2011 highs. This generated a slower sales pace in the market, even though producers noted that buyers in the West were still active. Canadian plywood producers with order files out three weeks or more reported sales at considerably higher price levels than those producers with shorter order files. Particleboard and MDF sales throughout the distribution pipeline were described as "not any worse" and "could be better." The September increase in sales that mills and yards were hoping for did not materialize. 

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