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Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Feb. 25, 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 prices held up reasonably well in the East, despite a lack of trading. In the West, some quotes were lowered to attract more sales, but producers exhibited little urgency to reduce prices more than $6. Good weather throughout much of the Southeast brought Southern Pine lumber buyers back in to cover needs, just not in the same numbers as the prior week. As a result, most #2 prices continued their upswing, some by double digits. Trading lacked energy in the Coastal species lumber market, but most prices were firm or edged modestly higher. Slight improvements in the Inland species #2&Btr lumber markets kept upward pressure on the upper grades. Both Select Structural lumber and MSR moved slightly higher. Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr has been raised in price by some key producers. Shop prices continue to firm gradually in all #2&Btr Shop items, but #3 Shop is stable. Selects and Commons are being led by #2 Common at this point. Most board producers, however, have significant gaps in their inventories, so much of the highly specified, highly mixed orders being sought are being turned away. Eastern White Pine mills also report good retail action in recent days -- the gift of slightly improved weather. Both Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr and Shop are under pressure for price increases. The sales pace in Western Red Cedar markets, still hampered by lingering winter weather in several regions within the eastern half of the United States, continued to flounder.

PANELS: The Western Fir plywood market lacked energy. Producers needing to move blocks into the distribution channel did so with discounts of $10 to $20 before moving quotes back up to previous levels. Producers focusing all their efforts on producing Southern Pine rated sheathing reported modest sales. Escalating demand for higher grades gained momentum, generating mill order files and higher prices. The few places that have decent weather have very poor OSB demand, creating some aggressive action among a few wholesalers. The need to move contracts has motivated them to seek sales, and most have to go below mill-asking levels to achieve those sales. The majority of comments about Canadian plywood this week involved some variation on the theme of quietness. Thus, the C$304 for 9.5 mm CSP sheathing delivered to Toronto remains the baseline. The overall situation in particleboard and MDF markets remains defined primarily by too many commodities for too few buyers. Nonetheless, "Mills are holding their own," according to one source, and they are not calling to make deals.

Source: RISI's Crow's Weekly Market Report

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