Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Feb. 7, 2014

*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: While eastern Canadian SPF producers lowered prices in search of sales, western producers held onto price levels for yet another week. Heavy snows and frigid temperatures restricted consumption throughout much of the northern tier of the U.S. A slower trading pace in the Southern Pine lumber market forced producers to seek sales from a weaker position. That weakness prompted buyers to reevaluate their positions, which often involved a strategy of reducing their inventories. Slow trading in the Coastal species lumber market left mills with growing volumes to push into the market, leading to lower prices. Both buyers and sellers of Inland species remained optimistic about spring business. Buyers were hesitant to commit much in the way of spring purchases until a clearer market direction was established. Sellers were not in a panic to sell and were content to write business as it came to them. Importers had limited amounts of Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr to sell and sold them readily at published levels. Some discounts were reported for less desirable lengths and mixes. The harsh winter weather in a large portion of the country continued to put the squeeze on the Ponderosa Pine industrials market. Door and window producers cut back their purchases for February, citing a buildup in inventory. Inquiries for Ponderosa Pine boards were light, but producers reported availability was also limited. Although sales calls were light, producers said they were busy fielding calls from customers checking on the status of previous purchases. Strong order files and production limited by cold weather kept Eastern White Pine prices on firm ground. Western Red Cedar producers, distribution yards and retailers remained in a wait-and-see mode, as winter weather virtually ceased consumption in key regions of the U.S. 

Panels: OSB markets remained quiet and uneventful. Influences outside of supply and demand had as much, if not more, impact than sales. Both buyers and sellers cited winter weather and transportation difficulties as major influences on their markets. Most Southern Pine plywood producers reported a moderate pickup in rated sheathing sales, which extended their order files into the week of Feb. 17. The market was generally upbeat, with most traders perceiving a much stronger market once weather conditions improve. A few Western Fir plywood producers reported mild increases in demand, but most indicated that sales activity was lackluster. Mills unwilling to lower prices tried to sell truckloads into local markets. Other mills wanting to move carload volumes did so with discounts of around $10. Canadian plywood sales made were at, or slightly above, published levels. Mill order files were as far out as the week of March 3, with very little wood offered before the week of Feb. 24. Weather also influenced both particleboard and MDF markets. SierraPine’s announcement that its Springfield, Oregon, particleboard mill would permanently close sometime in March sent buyers in the West scrambling for coverage.

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