Even as Business Remains Steady, Softwood Lumber Prices Drop Further

Many phone calls and negotiations were made, but actual sales of North America softwood lumber last week were not an improvement over recent weeks. Sales stumbled again last week as both primary and secondary suppliers of Western Spruce-Pine-Fir lumber in the United States had to reduce their asking prices to move even small volumes. For their part, WSPF purveyors in Western Canada sold “just enough to get by” each day last week, happy to not be chasing business like they were in March.
Be ahead of these data releases! Don’t delay, this week’s softwood lumber market comment was published to the website Monday morning.

Madison’s Lumber Prices, weekly, are a good forecast indicator of US home builder’s current lumber buying activity ——> DETAILS

Still in the west, according to one veteran trader dealing in Kiln Dried Doug-fir last week was akin to “pulling teeth from a sabre-toothed cat”. Many markets were in the midst of waking up from winter when the mercury dropped again, effectively dousing any progress in construction activity. Floods struck again in some regions that had yet to repair broken rail tracks from previous events this year.

SOURCE: Madison’s Lumber Reporter www.madisonsreport.com

In week ending April 12, 2019, Western Spruce-Pine-Fir KD 2×4 #2&Btr (RL) FOB sawmill wholesaler prices continued their recent sharp drops, averaging US$348 mfbm, a decrease of -$18, or -5%, from the previous week. Last week’s price is -$54, or -13%, less than it was one month ago. Compared to one year ago, prices are down -$202, or 37%.

Sales activity dropped off as winter weather returned to much of North America. — Madison’s Lumber Reporter

Demand was “unseasonably weak” as bad weather returned to many regions of North America after everyone thought winter was over. The majority of construction sites that had begun showing signs of life went frustratingly silent last week. Construction activity that showed promise in recent, balmier weeks choked as wintery weather reared its ugly head again. Wholesalers and distributers were busier than sawmills but were still “selling below replacement levels”.

Sawmill order files were anywhere from prompt to three weeks out according to producers. Producers had wood available for next week shipment, except on some popular or specialty items. — Madison’s Lumber Reporter

The below table is a comparison of recent highs, in June 2018, and current April 2019 benchmark dimension softwood lumber 2×4 prices compared to historical highs of 2004/05 and compared to recent lows of Sept 2015:

SOURCE: Madison’s Lumber Reporter www.madisonsreport.com