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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 March 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: Sluggish sales on the domestic front continued to sap any potential strength from the SPF lumber market. Even though sales were minimal, prices adjusted little. When they did move, the direction was slightly downward, with those moves attracting few additional buyers. A lack of urgency among buyers to approach Southern Pine lumber suppliers with needs continued. Those inquiries mills fielded were often accompanied by sizable counters. Some of the counters were from treaters who entered the market early to purchase replenishment volumes. Despite some lower Coastal Species lumber prices, generated by modest demand, balance between production and volumes purchased remained intact for the most part. Inland Species lumber production is at a low ebb, about matching the slack demand. This permits producers to maintain very firm prices for dimension lumber, even edging prices up from time to time. Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr has not yet taken another upward step, holding at the previous levels. The price of #2&Btr Shop remains strong, adding another $5 to its values. Selects have made some changes among California producers in recent trading, with C&Btr prices adjusting downward. Inland producers continue to show unchanged price lists. Idaho White Pine is being processed for shipment among key producers, most of it having been sold. Eastern White Pine producers have seen both demand and selling levels perk up for Premium items in recent weeks. Radiata Pine lumber shows some significant upward price changes, beginning with Mldg&Btr. Shop is also moving toward firmer levels. Signs of greater sales activity heading into spring dotted the Western Red Cedar market. Several suppliers of various items to home center chains reported moderately improved sales over last year.

PANELS: Perceiving a period of improved demand, Western Fir plywood mills sometimes pulled volumes from the market after extending order files to two weeks. Price increases of $10 to $20 were common in CDX panels. Sales activity accelerated Wednesday, generating price increases in the Southern Pine plywood market. Mills edged rated sheathing prices up in $5 increments, often ending $10 above the prior week's levels. OSB producers, especially in the West, are using export sales as a means of declaring market strength, but the volume of those sales is not clear. Canadian plywood mills with JAS stamps have taken significant volumes of export business made at sizable premiums to domestic wood. As a result, domestic prices have also risen. Producers of particleboard and MDF continue to battle the marketplace, needing to get more money but finding buyers unresponsive in an environment of little urgency. 

Source: RISI's Crow's Weekly Market Report

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