A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Jan. 6, 2012
*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 slower sales pace than the prior two weeks in the SPF lumber market left most prices flat or adjusting slightly upward. Mills carried order files of one to two weeks. Traders watched the January futures contract closely, as it remained at a discount to cash prior to its mid-month expiration. A broad range of buyers increased their participation in the Southern Pine lumber market, generating enough demand for mills to raise dimension lumber prices. Treaters purchased increased volumes, while yards replenished inventories after running them low during the last cycle. Coastal species lumber mills experienced enough demand for dry items to maintain price levels or push them higher. After a slow start, sales activity picked up Wednesday. Steady demand was experienced in many of the larger consuming regions. Producers of Inland species lumber reported a somewhat slow but steady market. Buyers looked for specific tallies and shipment times to fill in inventory holes, as continued good weather in many parts of the country helped keep wood moving out of dealers' gates. Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr and Shop sales were steady, as were prices. Light sales activity for Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr was reported. In Selects and Commons, light supplies of Idaho White Pine boards kept Sterling prices firm or up slightly. Eastern White Pine producers reported a market that was "mostly unchanged." Buyers looked mostly for good value and quick shipment. There was little change to the modest sales activity in the Western Red Cedar market. Mild weather brought some buyers back into the market to replenish.
Panels: OSB producers had an active week in some regions, while others were more on the quiet side. Producers reported good sales activity in western markets. Unusually good weather in many regions kept orders flowing. News of a Chilean plywood mill destroyed in a wildfire touched off a spark in the Southern Pine plywood market. Low inventory levels throughout distribution and a need to purchase post-new year replenishment volumes added to the fireworks in the market. Western Fir plywood prices increased right out of the gate on Tuesday, after traders returned to their desks following the long holiday weekend. Wholesalers got the ball rolling by purchasing early, followed by buyers seeking to replenish inventories. Sanded panels were the primary target of buyers before demand seeped into other panel items. Canadian softwood plywood producers reported a quiet but steady pace to the market. Mills with shorter order files were a little busier, but the overall tone was still on the quiet side. MDF and particleboard customers placed orders after returning from the long holiday weekend or shutdowns, trying to reestablish workable inventories.