Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for May 4, 2012

*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: Strong demand for SPF lumber sent prices higher at mills in both eastern and western Canada. Traders cited better consumption than what yards carrying low inventories into the upsurge had projected. Southern Pine lumber buyers continued to purchase in enough volume to prompt mills to push prices higher for the fourth consecutive week. Wide widths items remained the least supplied. Adding to upward price pressure is the difficulty traders are having finding trucks. Coastal species lumber demand and limited production combined to increase dry prices more than any other single week this year. Meanwhile, some producers were quoting for shipment in the latter half of May. The Inland species lumber market continued to be a "sellers' market," with order files out two to three weeks and very little inventory in mill yards. Buyers, who traditionally buy direct, had to turn to wholesalers and distributors to cover their needs. Activity in the Moulding and Shop markets was centered more around imports rather than domestic production. Increased activity for Radiata Pine from offshore markets has taken away some volumes that were available to U.S. customers. Ponderosa Pine markets did not see the same activity as Radiata Pine. However, reports of increased buying from door and window manufacturers were reported. Ponderosa Pine board sales were steady in their pace but light in volume. Eastern White Pine producers reported order files out to the week of May 14. Prices were firm, with a few exceptions. Light mill inventories of Idaho White Pine kept prices firm. Buyers of Western Red Cedar discovered availability of some items was tighter than previously. Demand continued to gradually increase, lending to mills seeking moderately higher prices.

Panels: OSB markets were quieter than last week. Although the pace was lighter, mills held prices firm and relied on order files out as far as the week of June 4. Market strength was greater in the North Central and Southwest, where prices were firm or up slightly. Sluggish to moderate sales in the Southern Pine plywood market generated mixed results in regard to pricing. Overall, rated sheathing prices were flat and mostly firm but also negotiated modestly in some instances to keep order files at arm's length. Sales activity was lackluster in the Western Fir plywood market, but it was enough to edge several sheathing prices a few dollars higher. Price levels kept buyers participating only when necessary, which consisted of conservative volumes for the near term. Light inventories at Canadian plywood mills and order files out to the end of May or early June kept control of the market in the hands of producers. Particleboard and MDF buyers were given notice of upcoming price increases due to particleboard and MDF production cost hikes.  

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