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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 June 29, 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 SPF lumber markets remained slow, leaving prices with nowhere to go but downward. The deepest discounts were extended to buyers looking for prompt shipping volumes. Wholesalers tried to clean up positions before the upcoming holidays in both Canada and the U.S. Treaters remained on the fringes of the Southern Pine lumber market, leaving most prices susceptible to declines. Production schedules varied for the week of July 2, with some mills scheduled to take downtime the entire week. Improved demand for Coastal species lumber allowed mills to firm prices as the week progressed in response to tighter product availability. Improved activity late in the week helped Inland lumber producers add some firmness to their prices. The activity was not, however, enough to bring prices back to the previous week's levels. Eastern White Pine board producers were open to counters in order to compete with other lower priced species. Order files declined. Producers reported steady sales of ESLP #2&Btr at established levels. Market activity for Ponderosa Pine boards remained lackluster, as buyers only made purchases for must-have items. Weakness in 1x12 prevailed, with #2&Btr being the most difficult item to move. Steady sales for Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr were reported, and 5/4 and 6/4. Very light demand from door and window producers forced mills to discount upper grades of both 5/4 and 6/4 prices remained firm. Demand for Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr quieted, which gave producers an opportunity to catch up on late shipments. Availability of Shop was scarce. Extremely hot weather in some parts of the U.S. was given credit for a slightly slower pace to the Western Red Cedar market. Despite fewer sales, some producers noted that the call-to-sales ratio was good.

Panels: OSB market activity was reportedly better in the North Central and western zones, but the overall pace was still on the quiet side in all regions. Producers relied on their order files to help keep prices firm, although some discounting was reported in all regions. Sales activity in the Southern Pine plywood market improved for producers, particularly after midweek, enabling them to push order files past the holiday week and into 7/9-7/16. Distributors replenished inventories. A somewhat pedestrian trading pace was established in the Western Fir plywood market, but producers continued to have the upper hand. Buyers were much more interested in purchasing prompt shipping volumes, which often drew premium prices for mills. Canadian plywood producers reported steady phone activity, although many of the calls were from customers checking on the status of orders. Mill order files out to the last week of July kept control of the market firmly in the hands of producers. MDF sales remained very strong and particleboard activity was described by most market players as "steady."

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