A persistent lack of stable supply together with ongoing hot demand served to keep western Canadian dimension framing softwood lumber prices high, even as many other species/regions experienced price drops this week.
In support of the WSPF R/L price resistance to softening was erratic straight lengths (or specified lengths) prices, most sizes of which flew up between $25 and over $100 this week.
Eastern Canadian lumber prices mostly remained flat, except 2×4 #3/Utility, which jumped $20. This provided confirmation of a trend this year for strong demand of utility grades, mostly used for packaging, pallets and crates, but also for other purposes — all non-construction. A number of sources have reported to Madison’s that some of their usual utility grades customers are planning to discontinue production of items needing that feedstock.
“At these prices” they say, “we may as well by #2&Btr standard grade.”
Current Softwood Lumber Prices Compared to Recent and Historical Highs
The below table is a comparison of June 2017 and March 2018 prices for benchmark dimension softwood lumber 2×4 prices compared to historical highs of 2004/05:
The lumber futures board on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange provided no clarity into lumber price movement, as Thursday close was up +$8.60 on the May contract and almost up-limit on July, at $515 and $505 respectively.
Sources reported this week that the volume of orders increased as customer needs could not longer wait.
Seemingly never-ending shipping delays continue out west.
Indications are that demand will be good and that inventories are light in the field. Inventories at sawmills, meanwhile, are getting more robust as previously-run wood does finally make it’s way out of mill gates.