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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 July 13, 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: Both mills and secondaries reported "mediocre" SPF lumber trading activity. Much of the inactivity was blamed on the approaching expiration of the July futures contract. Prices in the East were largely sideways, with mills relatively busier selling into the United States than Canada. The Southern Pine lumber market continued to round into better shape, as increased demand chewed through mill inventory buildups and generated order files of two weeks. Buyers purchased greater volumes in response to the appearance of price floors for certain items. Increased demand for both dry and green Coastal species prompted higher prices for many items. Mills reported order files out two weeks or sooner. Buyers found green Doug Fir items harder to source. Inland species lumber markets quieted after midweek. Producers were able to move off excess inventories and build modest order files. Eastern White Pine sales were steady and mills had order files out to the end of the month. Prices were firm. Ponderosa Pine board producers reported decent sales activity early in the week, but sales quieted late. The slower pace was attributed in part to the Inland golf tournament, which took some buyers and sellers away from their desks. Producers of Ponderosa Pine Moulding and Shop continued to struggle to stay ahead of production. While enough sales existed to keep Mldg&Btr prices firm, Shop prices remained vulnerable. Availability of Radiata Pine Shop was very light, as producers concentrated on markets other than North America. A pace closer to the one experienced prior to a muddled mid-week holiday reappeared for many Western Red Cedar producers. Any sluggishness regarding buying activity in particular regions of the United States was generally blamed on extreme heat.

Panels: OSB producers reported light inquiries and lackluster sales. Mill order files were out to the week of July 30, although prompt shipments were also offered by some producers. After mild discounts were used to sell quick shipping volumes early in the Southern Pine plywood market, increased demand helped firm prices and edge some slightly higher. Mills extended their order files out into the weeks of July 23 and 30. Sales activity in the Western Fir plywood market was slow. Some prompt volumes were sold at slight discounts. Buyers purchased Southern Pine at discounts to Western Fir. Although sales volumes were on the light side, Canadian plywood producers were content to wait for the market to come to them, carrying order files out to the end of July or early August. Expected slowing around the July 4 holiday was reported by a few particleboard producers, while other said the market was "steady." MDF sales remained stellar, with no producers indicating any slowing on that front.

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