Benchmark Softwood Lumber Prices Correct Downward Significantly

The view going forward is that ongoing demand for real building projects will keep lumber prices high. Whether they will surpass the record-levels of last year remains to be seen.

Madison’s Benchmark Top-Six Softwood Lumber and Panel Prices: Monthly Averages

Madison's Softwood Lumber Benchark green and KD Construction Framing Dimension Softwood Lumber Prices Monthly: JAN 2021

After popping up by a sizeable degree in the first full work week of 2021, last week benchmark softwood lumber and panel prices corrected downward to more sustainable levels as demand continued strong but supply was able to serve a burst of orders. This year sawmills across Canada and the US are well poised to produce ample lumber volumes for white-hot construction activity across the continent. Indeed, Canadian and US housing starts and home sales data for full-year 2020 showed extremely robust real estate markets, which are not going to slow down through this year, and possibly through 2022.

One important metric to note is that the largest demographic entering the first-time home buyer cohort is Millennials. This suggests sustained, longer-term high demand for home sales. Strong home sales inevitably leads to high rates of home construction, which of course means building materials — specifically lumber — will continue to sell well for quite some time to come.

“Players were more circumspect last week, as lower prices enticed some buyers.”

Madison’s Lumber Reporter

US Western S-P-F sawmills navigated another sneaky strong week as winter deepened further. Prices were adjusted down by most producers in an effort to find trading levels appealing to buyers, and a steady undercurrent of business kept decent volumes of WSPF commodities moving.

After another quiet start last week, Canadian Western S-P-F sales activity picked up around Thursday as buyers’ scant inventories generated a spate of purchasing.

As January 2021 marched on, lumber prices corrected downward somewhat from the unseasonal increase for the first week of the year. In the week ending January 22, 2021, the price of benchmark softwood lumber commodity item Western S-P-F KD 2×4 #2&Btr dropped by -$50, or -5.6%, to US$894 mfbm, from $944 the previous week, said Madison’s Lumber Reporter. Last week’s price is +$20, or +2.3%, more than it was one month ago when it was $874.

“The US national holiday last week Monday made for a slow, quiet start. Eastern S-P-F producers worked to establish concrete trading levels while customers threw out increasingly deep counters as they saw the market correcting. Any sawmills willing to accept those deep counters were soon cleaned out of the wood they felt obliged to move. Order files at Eastern sawmills were into early-February. ”

Madison’s Lumber Reporter
Madison's Softwood Lumber Benchark green and KD Construction Framing Dimension Softwood Lumber and Panel Prices JAN 2021

Compared to the price one-year-ago, of US$402 mfbm, last week benchmark softwood lumber item Western S-P-F KD 2×4 #2&Btr was selling for US$894 mfbm which is +$492, or +45% more.

Madison's Historical Softwood Dimension Lumber Price Comparison Table JAN 2021hart WeeklyNEW1

The above table is a comparison of recent highs, in Sept 2020, and current January 2021 benchmark dimension Softwood Lumber 2×4 prices, compared to historical highs of June 2018 and compared to recent lows of Sept 2015: