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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 May 9, 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: The pace of trading in the SPF lumber market was strong, particularly later in the week. Producers in both the East and West sold more than the week’s production. Buyers in eastern Canada participated in greater numbers. Demand for Southern Pine lumber remained strong, allowing mills to maintain order files of two to three weeks and raise prices. Traders pointed to improved demand out of northern tier states as one reason for improved sales. The overall strength of those items produced by Coastal species lumber producers improved, generating firmer pricing for some items and moderately higher prices for others. Dry producers often described sales activity as “steady.” Sales volumes for Inland species lumber were light but steady. Much of the quieter market was attributed to a lack of availability more than a slowdown in demand. Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr continued to sell steadily at or above published levels. Radiata Pine Shop offerings were far and few between, and most never saw the open market. Ponderosa Pine Shop producers, with order files through most of May, were content to stay on the sidelines for the time being. The Ponderosa Pine board market ended the week on a little quieter note than when it started. Explanations ranged from buyers’ attention shifting to covering needs for dimension lumber to long mill order files and a lack of wood to quote. ESLP producers had little trouble selling any available items they had to quote. Eastern White Pine producers continued to see steady business for Standard grade. Sales in the Western Red Cedar market were steady, as retailers experienced decent takeaways and distributors replenished or filled holes in inventories. Buyers often called producers, needing delivery of previously placed orders, which were somewhat restrained by tight truck availability.

Panels: Sales volumes at OSB mills slowed as dealers turned to secondaries for shipments that were quicker than producers could provide. Mill order files out to mid-June allowed producers to hold prices in spite of slower sales. Mill sales in the Southern Pine plywood market were not as robust as in previous weeks as buyers turned to wholesalers for quicker shipping needs. Mills continued to sell decent volumes, although sometimes less than a week’s production. Although Western Fir plywood producers often experienced decent sales, overall activity slowed at the mill level, leaving most prices with little energy to move much higher. Buyers looked to wholesalers for quicker shipping volumes. Market activity for Canadian plywood continued to increase. Started by a rally in western markets last week, buyers in eastern locations have begun to participate as well. Producers report mill order files as far out as the week of June 9. Overall particleboard and MDF sales were little changed from prior weeks, and producers often described sales as “steady. Some eastern producers continued to sell more than the week’s particleboard production, prompting them to seek higher prices from some customers.

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