Too Much Supply and Not Enough Demand
As a new month starts, the market continues to be mired in a downward slump that is frustrating and perplexing to many. Most of May saw the market slide, and at different times, there were different players that were more engaged than others during the downward move. As we rolled to the end of the month, it now feels that every aspect of the market is firmly looking to find a way to get out of an oversupplied position, be it regional mills, national mills, office wholesale, or distribution. There is simply too much supply and not enough demand.
Competition has been fierce for orders across all product lines, leading to massive confusion as to where numbers are trading, and it feels like as soon as you think you might have a sense as to where those numbers should be, something comes in to disrupt the pricing.
As we look to June, there hasn't been much positive sentiment in the market, leading many to feel that the downward slide has not approached the end as of yet.
With that said, from the position that we started to where we are now, the downside risk each day is becoming more limited. It must be, as we are getting back to numbers, where some will start talking about break-even costs at mills and the potential for something to give on the supply side as a result. We are watching closely, but for now, an abundance of caution remains throughout the entire market.
Supply & Distribution Update
The market has remained quiet, and shipments are generally making their way to their destinations within quoted delivery times. However, reports of truck and rail shortages remain.
As was the case in previous weeks, one major chain of Canadian mills continues to communicate difficulties in transportation via rail and truck. They are quoting estimated times for deliveries but will not quote areas west of the US Rockies by rail.
Diesel costs remain high ($6 a gallon in some cases), freight rates continue to fluctuate, and regional fuel surcharges remain. We continue to anticipate that rates will remain elevated and variable for the foreseeable future and that truck availability will remain challenging as truckers pick and choose the best-paying loads through preferred lanes.
After several slow weeks in the market, national and regional mills are presenting broad availability. Shipments are listed as prompt to 4 weeks out. Panel shipments are available for cash and contract for prompt delivery to 3 weeks out.
Distribution takeaway remained active last week as secondaries continue to work to liquidate inventory. Buyers are still filling holes and meeting short-term needs while avoiding larger buys until clear signs that a market level has been found.
We continue to suggest adding ample lead time to your purchasing to avoid ongoing delays in transportation.
News We Are Following
Lumber Prices Soften as Interest Rates RiseCandyd Mendoza - MPA
The record-high prices for lumber seen last spring are far behind us as prices are now falling with the rise in interest rates. Add to that the shortage in housing supply and high home prices, and it's a difficult market for lumber to maintain its strength as, over the past year, the price of lumber has added over $18,600 to the price of an average single-family home.
Lumber Bubble 2.0 Just Burst—Here’s When to Expect the Best DealsWill Daniel - Fortune
While we've seen sky-high lumber prices over the past couple of years, with record-setting numbers in the spring of 2021, with rising interest rates cooling off the housing market over the past three months, lumber prices have begun to fall back down to earth. But where does lumber go from here? "It is our belief that we are past peak demand, and this commodity bull wave is over," Kyle Little, the chief operating officer at Sherwood Lumber, says. "It is now moving to its next cycle."
U.S. Housing Starts Fall More Than Expected in AprilJoel Schlesinger - Calgary Herald
The steeper decline in US housing starts than was expected is in large part due to high inflation on the cost of materials and labour, as well as higher interest rates, according to two Canadian bank reports. This is in stark contrast to what we are seeing on the Canadian side of the border, where we find a rise in April's new home starts. The US housing market is becoming increasingly uncertain. The good news is that the decrease in demand is allowing the backlog of building to move forward and clear the large number of homes currently under construction.
Throughout last week, the dimensional market continued to find lower and lower trading levels on an abundance of supply and relatively thin demand and takeaway.
We continue this trend as we start the week with a strong downward print on Friday, leading to new lists published Monday and new ask levels being brought down. That said, all reports are that the majority of activity is being done well below ask levels on a case-by-case basis, with conversations happening back and forth between interested parties.
The 2x4 market continued its downward slide. Again being the lead product in the dimensional market, it did garner the majority of the attention. At this point, there is really no semblance of trying to pinpoint a number. As indicated previously, depending on buyers' interests and tally, there is certainly going to be an opportunity to look for willing participants on the other side of the equation.
We look for 2x4 to continue to show weakness as the week rolls on.
It seemed that 6" showcases additional weakness in the market, leading many to feel that there is simply too much supply in the 2x6 dimension.
Strong counters, even more so than seen in 2x4, were noted and, in certain cases, accepted. The gap between 4” and 6” looks to be widening again.
2x8 & 2x10
In 2x8 and 2x10, there wasn't the same level of attention as we saw last week, but where interest did arise, it was the same situation. If mills have prompt available material or items that are relatively prompt, they are certainly open to conversations about pricing to move material. There does not seem to be a shortage of any length in either of these dimensions.
The negative pressure was also felt by 2x12. We saw strong downward numbers as the week rolled on, and again, there doesn't appear to be a dramatic amount of takeaway in 12", so we look for numbers to weaken further.
Mills continue to substantially discount their available stud offerings, keeping pace with the steep, persistent decline we've witnessed for weeks throughout the SPF market. Purchasers remain very hesitant to cover much volume yet, apart from prompt needs, and they continue to rely heavily on LTL distribution.
Prompt options are popping up sporadically, but most order files remain 2 to 3 weeks out. Mill lists are at a considerable discount from weeks prior, yet producers still remain open to strong counters looking to generate demand and draw more purchasers off the sidelines.
Expect continued softness this week as the market is still searching for viable levels and interest amid such quiet demand seen of late
We wrapped up the back-to-back long weekends on both the Canadian and US sides of the border, which for many signals the unofficial start of the summer, and for a small segment of the lumber population, the official start to the treated building season.
Unfortunately, with the larger market in a negative position, it certainly feels at this point that treated will not be immune to current market conditions.
Treated takeaway continues to be reported as relatively lackluster, and inventory in the field is still reported as being over-supplied. It certainly looks like there is potential for pressure to mount as we move into June, save for a significant turnaround and takeaway from the DIY marketplace.
At this point, caution is being exercised. Of note, we are also not seeing a tremendous amount of interest from treaters in looking to replenish their inventories for additional finished goods.
Mill sales on MSR seemed to be slower last week as pricing uncertainty continued. Although not nearly as volatile as #2&btr, lower prices by the day have turned a lot of people off purchasing until absolutely necessary. The need to purchase is still there, but most truss plants are waiting as long as possible before actually issuing POs, at least until they see pricing level off. Mills continue to have strong demand for 2x4 and 2x6 2100, and with people waiting to purchase, the demand for prompt MSR remains strong.
LTL MSR sales out of our inventory locations are currently the flavour of choice as most truss plants are looking to limit their risk and only buy for their short-term needs. We do expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future until we see some strengthening in pricing and truss plants feel comfortable taking a position on stocking inventory.
Please allow 1-2 weeks on LTL MSR and 2-3 weeks for full truckloads. Even though material may be on the ground, mills remain cautious about shipments.
Last week, the panel market didn't seem to hold the same amount of attention, although it is faced with a very similar situation. Both OSB and plywood markets continue to be weak, and in the face of what's happening on the dimensional side, it's hard to make a case for how either of them is going to find solid footing in the immediate term.
Plywood print was down, albeit at a fairly modest level in reference to where activity was reported in the west. As we've mentioned over the last several weeks, there is a large discrepancy between print and what's happening in the eastern market on rail and van, with relatively decent order files and numbers being quoted much closer to print. This is in contrast to Super-B business in the west, which is very much like lumber, being done at levels significantly below print.
At this point, the downward trend looks to continue on plywood as well. Those consumers that are in need of material are buying for their immediate needs only, replenishing through distribution, or purchasing truckloads that they know will ship promptly to cover what they require. Any excess purchasing at this point in time is simply not happening.
OSB printed down again for another week with prices softening to start our current week as well.
The downward print did nothing to entice buyers. As indicated before, the overall sentiment of negativity has permeated all product lines, and OSB is no exception.
Again, we see modest takeaway as consumers fill their needs and look to purchase at the best numbers possible. Looking forward, the sense is that there will be a continual averaging down on OSB pricing. It's not coming off in the large amounts seen previously, but there is certainly still negative pressure overall.
We have inventories across the country to help fill your LTL and prompt lumber needs. Whether it’s studs, dimensional lumber, MSR, OSB or plywood, we have material on the ground and can fill your mixed truckload needs.
See what you've missed...