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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 Oct. 28, 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: Western SPF lumber mills were more open to moving off volumes of 2x4 #2&Btr in the $225-to-$230 range on Thursday, which prompted more buyer participation and firmed that price. Wholesalers covered shorts and purchased speculative volumes, perceiving some upside to the market. Traders grew more discouraged in response to continued weakness in the Southern Pine lumber market. Even those producers lowering quotes well below those of other mills reported slim interest from customers. Other than the persistent housing and economic malaise, uncertainty surrounding design values was blamed for much of the downturn in purchases. Coastal species lumber producers began negotiating early to move production. Some of the most aggressive pricing was found in both green and dry Doug Fir. A reduction in inventory prior to the sale of an Inland mill contributed to the already soft White Fir/Hem-Fir market. Traders looked for bargains and found some, as producers continued to look for a floor to the market. Producers reported Sugar Pine 1x12 #3 was a “hard sell.” Reports of increased inquiry for boards from big-box stores circulated, but little follow-through was reported. Buyers of Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr and Shop were able to find most of their needs readily available. The majority of buyers, however, were not participating in the market. Many said they were looking for prices to weaken, as the market moved into the winter months. More Western Red Cedar producers noted a decline in demand, perceiving it to be the seasonal downturn heading into the late fall and winter months.

Panels: The overall OSB market remained quiet but steady for another week. Producers concentrated on keeping ahead of production but held firm on prices as soon as an order file was established. Southern Pine plywood producers aggressively sought rated sheathing price levels that might attract buyers. Urgency among producers to sell brought about a range of quotes and sales levels, some at $40 below Monday's levels. Western Fir plywood mills used double-digit discounts to sell enough volumes to edge order files into the week of Nov. 7. At that point, they began raising quotes modestly. Shipments of a large volume of panels to a big-box distribution center prompted some producers to limit the depth of discounts. Counters of varying degrees were offered to Canadian plywood producers. Depending on the order file of the mill and the nature of the offer, some discounts were made to mill-asking levels. Throughout the distribution channel, particleboard and MDF sales were steady. Producers were not seeing a significant change in their takeaways, and yards reported steady sales.

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