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US Housing Starts: March 2019

US Housing Starts: March 2019

US new-home construction unexpectedly fell in March, said the US Commerce Department Friday, decelerating to the slowest pace since May 2017 and suggesting builders remain wary even as lower mortgage rates and steady wage gains offer support to consumers. For housing starts, this was the fifth negative Year-over-Year reading in a row (with March’s result being the worst, at -14%), something that has not occurred since 2009, while its 3-month moving average sank to -9% Year-over-Year. — Forbes According to…

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Softwood Lumber Prices Continue Dropping, US Housing Data Troubling

Softwood Lumber Prices Continue Dropping, US Housing Data Troubling

The latest data of US new housing starts and of home sales, for March 2019, is not encouraging. At a time of year when wood sales would normally be hot, this housing market softness is doing nothing to improve already dropping North America construction framing softwood lumber prices. Last week, Canadian sawmills and companies were closed Friday for usual observance of the Easter. The compressed week did not provide a boost to sales however, with demand significantly lower than it…

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Latest WTO Ruling on Softwood Lumber: Detailed Explanation

Latest WTO Ruling on Softwood Lumber: Detailed Explanation

The reality is that Canada is “trapped” in an issue between the World Trade Organization and US President Donald Trump’s Administration. Knowledgeable insiders explain that the US is blocking appointments of adjudicators to the global trade resolution agency, seemingly in an effort to put pressure on the WTO to allow “zeroing” (a method of calculation that is part of claims of dumping). The mixed ruling just announced in this early stage of Softwood Lumber Dispute V finds partially in favour…

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Even as Business Remains Steady, Softwood Lumber Prices Drop Further

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…

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Canada to Appeal Recent Softwood Lumber Ruling at WTO and NAFTA

Canada to Appeal Recent Softwood Lumber Ruling at WTO and NAFTA

Just as Canada is being tossed about like a pebble between two great forces with China’s ban on Canadian canola imports — supposedly due to the US extradition request and arrest in Vancouver, BC of a top executive at Hawuei last month — the World Trade Organization (WTO) is mired in a crisis of delayed adjudicator appointments by USA. <br> This when arbitration for Softwood Lumber Dispute V reaches WTO and suddenly a US duty calculation practice which has never…

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US Construction Job Openings: Feb 2019

US Construction Job Openings: Feb 2019

Data from the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), released Friday, indicate that construction job openings fell back in February but remain higher on a year-over-year basis, consistent with the ongoing challenge of the availability of labor for builders. The number of open construction jobs in the US totalled 286,000 for the month, compared to 198,000 in February 2018. The open position rate (job openings as a percentage of total employment plus current job openings) declined to 3.7% in…

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US Construction Materials Prices: March 2019

US Construction Materials Prices: March 2019

Prices paid for goods used in US residential construction increased +1.5% in March according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Thursday. Prices have risen more quickly thus far in 2019 than they did during the same period in 2018 and are at their highest level since last October. The average January-to-March increase since 2000 is +1.1%. The downward trend in prices paid for gypsum products continued in March, as prices declined -0.3%….

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Softwood Lumber Anti-Dumping Duty: WTO Ruling Explained

Softwood Lumber Anti-Dumping Duty: WTO Ruling Explained

As usual with the seemingly-permanent Softwood Lumber Dispute between Canada and the US, the latest trade ruling brings up more questions than it resolves. An almost undecipherable ruling out of the World Trade Organization on softwood lumber this week caused some great confusion, in no small part because it is both for and against both Canada and the US (meaning: each side won one aspect of this particular subject). THE SHORT ANSWER IS: in 60 days more results will come…

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US and Canada Railway Carloadings: March & Jan 2019

US and Canada Railway Carloadings: March & Jan 2019

US rail traffic continued its slump in March, falling -5.2% to 2,022,934 carloads and intermodal units compared with volumes in March 2018, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data released April 5. In it’s latest release, issued Wednesday, AAR reported US rail traffic for the week ending April 6, 2019, at 510,192 carloads and intermodal units, which is down -2.8% compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 6 were 251,417 carloads, down…

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WTO Panel Finds US Softwood Anti-Dumping Duties in Violation

WTO Panel Finds US Softwood Anti-Dumping Duties in Violation

The World Trade Organization Tuesday said the US violated international trade rules in the way it calculated tariffs on Canadian imports of softwood lumber in a key dispute ruling published on the WTO website. The decision also provided a boost to the US’s use of a controversial methodology used when calculating anti-dumping duties on Canadian lumber. In the past, the WTO has struck down American use of the process, called zeroing, which typically results in higher duty margins. This ruling…

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