A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Feb. 17, 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: SPF mill sales slowed to a trickle compared with the two prior weeks. Demand for #2&Btr was minimal. Modest sales activity and producers' order files touching into the week of March 5 left only minor price adjustments at both East and West mills. The current cycle in Southern Pine dimension lumber continued its downward trend for the third consecutive week. Limited demand forced mills to lower dimension prices by $10 or more. Distributors filled inventory holes conservatively in light of falling prices. Demand for Coastal species #2&Btr dimension lumber slowed, but little or no urgency was shown on the part of producers to lower prices. Conditions among low-grade items contrasted with uppers: Demand was strong and prices increased in some instances by double digits. Inland species sales slowed from what was described as the "extremely strong" pace of last week. Some follow-through was reported, but many buyers stepped to the sidelines or turned to secondaries for coverage. Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr sales were steady and prices were firm. Availability of Shop was extremely limited and few sales were reported. Another uneventful week was reported for Ponderosa Pine Moulding and Shop grades. Producers with order files into March were content to wait for buyers to come to the table. As for Ponderosa Pine boards, very little inventory was available at the mills. Order files out to mid-March in some cases kept producers firmly in the driver's seat. Idaho White Pine producers reported "lots of calls," but most had little inventory to sell. Those that took orders were able to move prices up easily. Sales of ESLP boards were good in both #2&Btr and #3.
Panels: OSB markets were in a familiar cycle. Buyers covered needs the previous two weeks, generating mill order files of a couple of weeks and higher prices. Producers are now relying on those order files to keep prices firm while sales have slowed. The combination of contract volumes and open market sales allowed Southern Pine plywood producers to post order files in the week of March 5. To get there, producers sat on prices, rarely raising quotes but maintaining firm levels. Despite a sluggish week of sales at the mill level, Western Fir plywood prices held up well. Order files in the week of Feb. 27 provided some cushion for mills to prop up prices. Spotty volumes remained available for the week of Feb. 20. Canadian plywood producers report a steady but quieter market than last week. Mill order files out to the week of March 12 or March 19 helped keep prices on firm ground. For particleboard producers, February started slightly slower than what January produced in the way of demand. MDF sales have improved over the past two weeks.