Winter Weather Keeps Lumber Sales Low

A quick look at the graph above to compare the yellow line of 2023 to the blue line of this year, shows there is a return to stability and the more regular price changes that were normal until the disruptions of the Covid era. Given that the great volatility of that time is behind us, expectations are that — going forward — both the wood products manufacturing and the home building industries will be once again able to plan ahead for their future business dealings.

In the week ending January 19, 2024, the price of Western Spruce-Pine-Fir 2×4 #2&Btr KD (RL) was US$442 mfbm, which is flat from the previous week when it was $442, said weekly forest products industry price guide newsletter Madison’s Lumber Reporter.

That week’s price is up by +$31, or +8%, from one month ago when it was $411.

Much of the North American lumber market was frozen in place as frigid weather descended across the continent. Commodity prices were flat or on either side of the previous week’s levels, while supply and demand both went into hibernation mode.
Madison’s Lumber Reporter

Western S-P-F purveyors in the United States were under a blanket of snow, blunting the overall pace of business noticeably. Still, there were those traders who were pleasantly surprised with inquiry levels considering the time of year. Western mills maintained their numbers for the most part, loathe to go any lower as they were barely in the black as it was.

Suppliers advised their charges to buy through Valentine’s Day and then reevaluate the market. They hoped that by that time there will be a clearer picture as to the direction of multi-family construction in 2024. In the meantime, trucking lanes and rail lines in most regions ground to a halt as the mercury dropped.

Western Canadian suppliers of Western S-P-F lumber navigated a muted market muffled by winter weather. Sawmills held most of their asking prices flat while a narrow trading range was reported at the secondary supplier level.

A small contingent of active buyers shopped their needs aggressively on specific tallies, finding limited availability among wholesalers and distributers.

Producers maintained order files in the three week range, while minimal takeaway caused their offer lists to grow marginally. Delivery times increased as rough road conditions caused headaches in the trucking sector.

Demand for the Eastern S-P-F slowed down tangibly as frigid weather descended on the Eastern reaches of North America. Many US players were also absent early in the week while they observed Martin Luther King Day, further dampening the tone of business. Mill offer lists weren’t exactly robust as production volumes were affected by the cold, but inquiry and follow through were also quiet, leading to a relative balance. Sluggish demand was reported as the week wore on, with sawmills getting more aggressive and amenable to counter offers from midweek-on.
Madison’s Lumber Reporter