By Kéta Kosman, Publisher and Editor, Madison’s Lumber Reporter January 10, 2019
OVERVIEW: Year-End Arrived as North American Forest Industry Closed 2018 Smoothly
The wacky year of 2018 ended smoothly for North American forestry operators, as the usual seasonal curtailments, maintenance shutdowns, and inventory control took place at the end of December 2018. Prices on most construction framing softwood lumber commodities stayed at from the previous week, or moderated downward slightly. Most players were prepared for the end of the year so desks and yards were well vacated even before the end of the final week.
Business conditions for lumber manufacturers in Canada and the US looked good for a quickly-looming 2019: several sawmill upgrades/expansions/building were announced in 3Q and 4Q 2018, US home sales were so brisk that prices rose and inventories dropped, new markets demonstrated ravenous demand for wood, and important approval was received for multi-story engineered wood building in the US.
Ongoing constraints are well know: specifically a messy tangle of trade disputes among key forestry buyers and sellers globally, severe-to-catastrophic timber loss/damage in important lumber producing regions of north-western US and Canada, and the seemingly inevitable in ationary pressures sure to hit USA next year.
That said, the North American forest industry is poised to start-up in 2019 with a bang, as it did this year and last.