Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Nov. 4, 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: SPF lumber mills showed a willingness to negotiate price levels for those items most plentiful. Overall, interest among buyers was low, leaving producers with few sales. Low-grade prices remained very weak, without the domestic demand needed to absorb the increased availability. Southern Pine lumber producers were again forced to discount most #2 dimension lumber prices. Volumes sold out of mills depended heavily on how aggressive producers approached the market with lower prices. Coastal species lumber sales were sluggish overall, but producers were able to hold prices within $5 of prior levels in most instances. Trying to keep volumes moving and cars loaded, mills listened enough to sell production. The markets for Inland species lumber continued to be slow, and discounts were needed in most instances to book business. Price alone was usually not enough to close the deal. In industrial grades, market activity for Ponderosa Pine was light but steady. Radiata Pine producers did not report a lot of price pressure from major users, and a few sales of 5/4 Mldg&Btr at a premium to published prices were reported. The pace in board markets was slow but steady, as buyers kept their PO books in the drawer, unless there was a need. Eastern White Pine producers were concerned about log availability and costs. Some reported having less than a week’s supply of logs in their decks. Idaho White Pine prices remained unchanged. Western Red Cedar buyers purchased highly specified orders in volumes consistent with reduced and tightly monitored inventories. Tight knot items continued to sell at a decent pace.

Panels: OSB producers were reluctant to lower their asking prices in spite of light inquiry and sales. Some counters were accepted but with little fanfare. The most active regions were the Mid-Atlantic and Southwest. Southern Pine plywood producers were able to sell enough rated sheathing to move order files into the week of Nov. 11. In several instances, it did take discounts to move the week's production. A combination of factors bolstered Western Fir plywood pricing, one being a reduction in the supply. Price adjustments for most items were few and, where they did occur, minor. A widening range of Canadian plywood prices were reported. Some sales as high as $324 for 9.5mm delivered Toronto were reported, while others were made at $305 for the same item. The bulk of business done this week was around C$310 to C$315. More particleboard and MDF producers, along with distribution yards, reported a slower sales pace. What little momentum the fall market gathered appears to be dissipating.

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