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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 Sept. 9, 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: Rising SPF pricing and gains in futures appeared to feed off each other. Steady demand in the cash market and limited near-term availability enabled western producers to sell 2x4 #2&Btr in the mid-$250s, up from $242 the week prior. Southern Pine lumber mills were backed further into a corner, as soft pricing persisted in the market. Low dimension lumber prices prompted more producers to hold quotes close to levels reported the prior week, but discounts were apparent. Sales activity was steady enough to edge some Coastal species prices moderately higher. Rising prices and declining availability in SPF narrow widths sent buyers looking for coverage in Hem-Fir. A continued strengthening SPF market helped bolster demand for Inland Hem-Fir narrows. Producers reported order files into the week of Sept. 19 or 26 for narrows. Activity in wides was quieter, but prices were unchanged. Order files kept Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr prices firm, although sales activity was light for the shortened holiday week. The Radiata Pine market was also quiet this week. Prices on both Mldg&Btr and Shop were unchanged. Idaho White Pine board producers reported light inventories and firm prices. Eastern White Pine producers were still trying to recover from the storm damage of Hurricane Irene, as well as new flooding from heavy rains this week. Western Red Cedar producers limited production in a variety of ways, trying to keep some balance between light demand and output. Volumes of stock on hand at mills appeared to be dwindling, as producers prepared for a downturn in sales prior to the winter.

Panels: OSB markets in most regions were quiet. A short holiday week coupled with lackluster demand made for slow sales. Price adjustments were scattered, as producers worked off excess inventory items. Firm to higher pricing dominated the Southern Pine plywood market. On the Westside, rated sheathing prices adjusted little, but order files were pushed into the week of Sept. 19 and beyond. Wholesalers bought and sold conservative volumes persistently, while industrial customers absorbed significant volumes of underlayment. Fairly modest sales activity in the Western Fir plywood market left sheathing prices near prior levels. A surprisingly robust Canadian plywood market continued. Northeast flooding impacted sales. Both distributors and mills have confirmed sales into the week of Oct. 10, and at higher-than-print prices. Particleboard and MDF producers and distributors reported little change in regard to demand and pricing. Market participants were not seeing much of any post-Labor Day increase in sales activity, which created a modest amount of nervousness. 

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