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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 April 4, 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: A slow start to the week prompted western SPF lumber mills to again lower prices in search of sales. Significant down moves in futures Wednesday and Thursday weighed on the market. Buyers continued to perceive ample volumes available at western mills because of slow shipments. Despite removing significant buildups from inventories the week prior, an overall lack of demand forced Southern Pine lumber producers to again lower most dimension lumber prices. Buyers continued to hold out when possible, perceiving the potential for prices to decline further. Competition for orders continued to place downward pressure on Coastal species lumber items. Green Doug Fir pricing continued to decline across the board. The impact of downward pricing on other species was felt in the Inland species lumber market. Limited availability of both Fir-Larch and Hem-Fir/White-Fir helped offset some of the pricing pressure, but not all of it. Producers who were cutting other species or had good order files remained above the fray. Radiata Pine sellers reported steady sales and prices at or slightly above published levels for Mldg&Btr. Offerings of Shop grades were limited and sold readily to regular customers. Buyers of Ponderosa Pine industrials were optimistic about their future business. Most were also cautious about making purchases too soon. Ponderosa Pine boards remained in short supply for many widths and lengths. Buyers in need of coverage were willing to pay mill asking prices. Idaho White Pine prices moved in both directions, as more producers came on line. Eastern White Pine sales continued to be steady, with limited availability keeping prices firm. Mill sales in the Western Red Cedar market continued to depend largely on where one’s customer base was located. Where weather was better, so were sales.

Panels: Snow falling in some northern regions made OSB trading difficult for wholesalers. Selling prices were most often well below mill asking levels. Order files created by late shipments were sometimes given as a reason for mills’ resolve. Needing to acquire orders, some Southern Pine plywood mills approached the market more aggressively. Quotes were lowered $10 to $20 in a number of instances to stir up business. While mills did achieve more sales with deeper price cuts, secondaries sensed the potential for more discounting. Lackluster demand continued to place downward pressure on Western Fir plywood pricing. Buyers again purchased just enough volume to get them through the near term and often insisted on quick shipments. A modest rally midweek helped Canadian plywood producers move order files into the week of April 28 and firmed asking levels to a point over published levels. Producers reported good sales into Alberta and the Prairies, but also noted a pick-up in activity out of BC and Ontario. Particleboard sales overall were steady. MDF sales were a notch slower than particleboard. Some producers did not sell enough to reach the week’s production levels.

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