New Levels Reached in the Lumber Market
As we begin the final week of February, we find ourselves mired in a market that once again shows no desire to relent.
At the end of last week, a wide spectrum of commodities were all showing signs of supply constraints and pressure. When focusing on the building materials marketplace, lumber, panel, and many of the other segments that fit into our markets have all been hit hard.
Lumber and panel showed limited availability on strong sales from mills, as takeaway continued to outstrip supply. Specifically, mills were very bullish yet again, with very thin offering lists and continuing to push prices up. We saw a very erratic futures market that has gone up and down but still trending upwards. On the panel side, there is continued pressure and a real surge in activity as the week went on.
Supply & Distribution Update
We find ourselves continuing to struggle to meet the hand-to-mouth demand, as the high lumber prices keep buyers on the sidelines, focused only on covering their immediate and short-term needs.
Pressure on distribution looks to continue with the price of commodities holding firm and still climbing upwards. Look to cover your immediate and short-term needs as quickly as possible out of distribution, as you will be faced with long lead times regardless of the products you seek.
Sales Slowdown not Stopping Record High Lumber Prices from Reaching $1000 USD
Tuesday was the first time lumber reached $1000 USD per thousand board feet for Western SPF, despite the slowdown in sales as a result of wintery weather. OSB is also seeing new record highs at $870 USD. The result has been that producers that were shut down are restarting activities while consumers are trying to build up their inventories to meet their spring needs.
Lumber Costs are Up and That Leads to Higher Home Prices
Due to the jump in lumber prices, according to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales rose 14.1% year-over-year. Wood prices are up due to COVID-related shutdowns, wildfires, and general demand for home building and renovations. Plus, with winter in full swing, that leads to some transportation delays, adding to the price increase for wood.
OSB Mill Restarting for Louisiana Pacific’s Peace Valley Operation
The Peace Valley mill in Fort St. John is getting set to start up operations again this year, according to the Louisiana Pacific earnings call announcement last week. The goal is to fill the growing demand for the customer base. The mill has been shut down since June of 2019.
Construction Material Costs Rise on High Demand
With the run on building supplies due to the dramatic uptick in home renovations over the past year, the price of construction materials has climbed along with that demand. A survey done by Leger this past December, suggests that 65% of homeowners have gone through some renovations since March of 2020. Another Leger survey shows that 80% of construction companies have suffered through delivery delays and stock issues to get their work done. From initial production lines to the consumer, material is hard to find and costly to afford.
At this point in time, the dimensional market looks to be solidly in a position where demand will continue to be slightly outpacing supply, putting the mills in a strong position to control the shape and destiny in the marketplace.
We saw prices creep up throughout the week on the back of takeaway, with mills pushing order files out to mid-March and some reporting as far out as late March at this point in time.
In 2x4, we saw continued pressure on all lengths, with the larger mills reporting strong US sales followed by good Canadian takeaway. The smaller, more regional mills are coming to the market with more prompt availability, which has been scooped up with relative ease.
In 6”, there does seem to quietly be less material developing on the market at this point. We are looking to potentially see 2x6 material becoming more of a challenge to source in the near-term than 4” if we see a spike in demand. As supply constraints are so tight, it will not take much to tip that over.
2x8 & 2x10
There continues to be a short supply for 2x8 and 2x10. We don’t see this changing in the near-term, and there continues to be strong takeaway from the contractors’ retail segment, as well as the treaters. There is very sparse availability on lists.
The pressure of the markets is being felt on 2x12 with very limited availability. Of note, 2x12 seems to be very sought-after and mills cannot match consumption levels at this point.
As with all things in the lumber market these days, purchasers have maintained a cautious approach to studs this week. Despite winter finally gripping the western provinces, demand persisted as purchasers look to keep pace with immediate needs and get in front of persistent and inevitable increases across all trims.
Mills have maintained a consistent 2 to 3-week order file amid the demand. However, lists are looking more robust with certain trims out a further 4 weeks.
Pressure on distribution for fill-in inventory is feeding prompt demand, but as more purchasers grow anxious of any potential downside risk and maintain thinner inventories, LTL availability could remain quite scarce. As higher levels are established week-over-week, don’t expect demand to outpace supply, as it appears most interest is vested in covering near-term needs.
The story for treated material is much the same as it has been for the last couple of weeks. We are seeing input costs continue to rise, so treated lumber is going to be in high demand very soon, as we round the corner to begin the season.
Most yards have stepped into fairly significant positions, anticipating this strong demand. We do feel that it will continue to be a solid year for the treated market, with prices remaining firm as treaters continue to bring in new material to meet the requirements for the second half of the season.
As with dimensional #2&btr, MSR continues its steady upward trend. Availability remains sparse, and demand remains strong heading into spring. Continuing to lead the way in demand is 2x4 and 2x6 2100 MSR, and as such, mills are not being shy about premiums on these items.
Trucking and rail availability remains tough, making prompt availability almost nonexistent.
We continue to bring MSR into all our inventory locations, but with the increase in customers limiting their inventory exposure, we have continued increasing demand out of all inventory locations. We encourage our customers to look at their 3 to 4 week MSR needs and to contact us with any questions.
The plywood market saw yet another incredible surge last week, and as we begin this week, though, we find ourselves with a very fractured market. Mills are reporting that they are off the market for rail shipments, as well as van shipments into the east. This is on the heels of an amazing sales pace that is now taking van shipment out to the end of June.
On the same front, Super-B shipments have now pushed to the last week of May with strong sales pace activity.
Print was up strong to finish the week, but with the divided ship times on vans versus Super-Bs, it will be very interesting to see how print reacts as we wrap up the current week.
Anticipate strong numbers. The question will be how high does print reflect looking at van versus Super-B sales.
Slight upward movement on print is pushing OSB further into uncharted territory. Most western mills are OTM for the time being, setting long order files into the back end of May, if not June. There is no end in sight, as resistance to pricing has subsided and buyers are scrambling to cover their needs. Alternatives to OSB are being explored by many.
Of note, LP announced plans to reopen the Peace Valley OSB mill in Fort St. John later this year. Full production is expected by the second or third quarter of 2022. The upshot is, this will not affect pricing or availability through the balance of 2021. We’ve included an article from the Alaska Highway News in our news section.
Looking at reloads and distribution, they have been picked clean and prompt availability is near nonexistent.
Lumber is what we do! Our traders are in the market all day, every day. Let us share our knowledge with you, if you have any questions, never hesitate to give us a call.
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