Muted Demand Keeps Softwood Lumber Prices Low as Futures Tank

Until Tuesday all eyes were on trading of softwood lumber futures on the Chicago Merchantile Exchange. The July contract closed Monday unchanged at $360. By Tuesday morning the September contract down $12 and trading at $336, with little optimism of the recent price drops reversing direction.

Western Spruce KD 2x4 #2&Btr prices JULY 2019

For it’s part, cash price (wholesaler, “print”) for benchmark construction framing dimension softwood lumber commodity Western Spruce-Pine-Fir 2×4 (net FOB sawmill) was down $10 on the previous week, at US$392 mfbm. At producers, sawmill order files were barely longer than a week although most manufacturers were quoting a 2-week order file.
In Eastern Canada, the annual summer construction and forestry two-week break could not could soon among. Among players in the west there were rumours circulating of still more curtailments and down-time. The more cynical looked at the job action last week on the coast as more of a “mutually decided” curtailment than a labour dispute.

Prices of most lumber commodities were flat or slightly down as the market faltered following July holidays in Canada and the US. — Madison’s Lumber Reporter

Expectations would be for prices to moderate along current levels until the end of August, unless something drastic happens (like severe fires or storms).

Madison's Weekly Movers & Shakers Softwood Lumber and Panel Prices Chart JULY '19

Be ahead of these data releases … Don’t delay, this week’s softwood lumber market comment was published to the website Monday morning.

After terrifying drops in early summer which landed at close to US$400 mfbm, this week the wholesaler price of benchmark lumber commodity Western Spruce-Pine-Fir 2×4 fell another -$10, or -2.5%, to end the week at US$392 mfbm. This week’s price is +$16, or +4%, more than it was one month ago. Compared to one year ago, this price is down -$230, or -37%.

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

Madison's Historical Softwood Dimension Lumber Price Comparison Table JULY 2019

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

Compared to historical trend, this week’s WSPF 2×4 #2&Btr KD S4S (RL) price is down -$2, relative to the 1-year rolling average price of US$394 mfbm. The 2-year rolling average price is US$452 mfbm.

A palpable two-tiered market persisted in Eastern Canada, as secondary suppliers did the majority of wheeling and dealing while sawmills remained much quieter. — Madison’s Lumber Reporter

Madison's Weekly Movers & Shakers Softwood Lumber and Panel Prices Chart JULY '19