Severely Bad Weather Across Continent Barely Slows Lumber Industry

Demand, especially from retailers, continued so strong this week that many North American sawmills were actually able to grow their order files.

Current Softwood Lumber Prices Compared to Historical Highs.

The below table is a comparison of June 2017 and January 2018 prices for benchmark dimension softwood lumber 2×4 prices compared to historical highs of 2004/05:

SOURCE: Madison’s Lumber Reporter

As Madison’s had anticipated at the end of 2017, the North American lumber market was back in high-gear this week as customers in Canada and the US kept up demand as strong as it was before the end of last year.

Significant volumes of 2×8 construction framing lumber arrived at the US eastern seaboard from various EU sawmills (generally Germany but also some Scandinavian countries), which — once it was ripped down to 2x4s — proved to not meet US building standards. This sent desperate-for-supply resellers in the locations directly affected to several ESPF producers in Canada.

Otherwise sawmills are back and running after holiday breaks, maintenance, and weather closures. Log supply remains the biggest concern in the west, as many operators are still waiting to find out how much of their respective timber access has been directly impacted by the massive wildfires last year.

Customs brokers operating the US border inform Madison’s that — in a usual but aggravating ‘err on the side of caution’ move — due to lack of clarity on specific product HS codes, US Customs and Border has decided that shakes and shingles made in Canada are for now subject to the softwood lumber duty.

The graph below illustrates 10-year price trends for WSPF, ESPF, and SYP KD 2×4 #2&Btr:

SOURCE: Madison’s Lumber Reporter