This week the North American softwood lumber market “settled down” (to use that term lightly) from the wild swings of the past couple of months. Supply was carefully assessed as field inventories were well-stocked but also wood kept going out the door.
A more accurate sawmill order file than the previous few weeks was pegged — at most operations — into the second week of September.
Where last week everyone was waiting to see how demand would continue into the Labour Day long weekend, it is now obvious that construction framing lumber buying remains strong. The plentiful supply, however, is doing a lot to keep customers pounding down producers with counter-offers.
While prices recovered, there is a possibility there might be some more strengthening next week as end-users are realizing they still need materials for their building projects into October. Sawmills switched into high gear to be able to respond to these near-term needs.
At the same time though, lumber manufacturers carefully monitored orders vs production, so as to keep supply even with demand. All eyes, after all, are on the looming seasonal slow-down for US home building and thus for North American lumber buying.
Politics continued to add uncertainty and indeed consternation, as the US and China increased duties and counter-duties against each other by another US$16 billion Friday.