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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 18, 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: Trading in the SPF lumber market slowed, but limited availability kept upward pressure on some prices. Buyers noted limited availability at eastern Canadian mills and looked to western mills to cover more of their needs. Difficulties selling chips at eastern mills promised to harness production at those mills. Price increases in the Southern Pine lumber market were not as robust as previous weeks. Mill lead times, transportation issues and what some considered "toppy" pricing prompted retailers to look to yards to purchase fill-in volumes. The sales pace in the Coastal species lumber market eased, generating fewer and lighter price increases than in previous weeks. Buyers expressed concerns regarding the potential for greater volumes of SPF lumber entering the United States in June, in response to lower tax rates on Canadian lumber exports. Limited tally selection, along with extended order files, kept Inland species lumber prices on an upward trend, in spite of lighter sales volumes than the prior week. Secondaries sold rollers with ease at levels above replacement costs. Supplies of Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr and Shop were tight, and producers did not see any relief until July or August. The market for Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr and Shop remained firm but quiet, although some discounts for volume purchases of #2&Btr Shop were reported. In boards, Ponderosa Pine 1x6 and 1x8 #2&Btr remained active at both Inland and California mills, while 1x12 in both #2&Btr and #3 showed signs of weakness. Prices for Idaho White Pine Sterling were unchanged, while Standard 1x4, 1x6 and 1x12 softened slightly. Prices for ESLP were firm. Eastern White Pine producers reported a "very busy" week with good volumes going out the gate. Western Red Cedar buyers are having a harder time finding quick shipping volumes than what many have grown accustom to, largely due to a combination of less production and improved demand.

Panels: The pace of the market for OSB started the week on a somewhat quieter note, but by week's end, both producers and dealers reported a much brisker pace to the market. Prices increased in most regions. Southern Pine plywood producers again plowed through another week where rated sheathing prices remained steady -- for the most part. Order files were extended another week, moving into the week of June 4. Sales activity in the Western Fir plywood market increased, allowing producers to bolster order files and increase prices. The Canadian plywood market closed the week with producers firmly in control. Participation from all regions enabled producers to extend order files out to the week of June 18 or June 25 on some items. Particleboard and MDF producers reported another solid week of sales activity, helping to maintain strong order files. Recent price increases in response to higher production costs took hold.

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