We begin the second week back after the disjointed holiday season and a cold snap through much of BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan that has halted any interest in the lumber market.
The overall tone on the market seems to be mirroring the Western Canadian marketplace with continued uncertainty, along with a great deal of confusion and skepticism over where this market could possibly go.
Concern Over BC’s Forestry Sector Has Not Dwindled in the New Year
The call for action to help the struggling forestry workers and contractors in BC has been taken up by MP Cathy McLeod. She has called on the federal and provincial governments to help through various means, such as recognizing lumber in a new trade agreement to ease costs. Other key issues raised to help support the industry include efforts in diversity for the region and adding better internet capabilities.
Canadian Housing Starts Slowed in December
While the Eastern Canadian metropolises showed the largest decline in multi-family housing starts, the overall numbers were steadied by stability in Vancouver and Calgary. Ontario saw a decline of 17% but the national number sits at a 5% drop. We will see what kind of toll that takes on the forestry sector in the coming months.
West Fraser to Hold Q4 Results Call
The fourth-quarter results analyst call is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, February 12th at 8:30 am PST. It will be interesting to hear what they have to say about the year-end quarter and their outlook for 2020.
We are starting to see some more offerings coming out of mills. Certain mills are showing heavier availability on certain lengths but overall there is certainly material to look at for prompt and 1 to 2 weeks out.
Certain mills are showing a lack of 16’ material, where others show heavy volumes of the product. With the 16’ premium over random lengths still strong, it is interesting to see broken tallies at certain mills. The 2x4 market continues to roll along but there seems to be plenty of pushback between mills, distributors, and end-users on where levels should be. Some feel that prices will appreciate over the next 2 or 3 weeks, while others believe there will be some pullback.
There is still a very similar price level on 2x6 as we are seeing on 2x4. Both are trading quite closely in a tight range. The 2x6 16’ seems to be holding strong value and we have seen better availability on the product than we have seen in quite a while. It is anticipated that both 2x4 and 2x6 will continue trading closely to each other.
The 8” market has been very quiet over the last few weeks. Mill availability is spotty, depending on where it’s coming from. Long length availability in 8” is better and it is still holding on to a large premium. It will not take much to make the 2x8 long length disappear, as we have seen in the unfolding pattern of late.
There is not a tremendous volume on the market. We are not seeing many mills going out of their way to move 2x10 material. The market feels fairly balanced.
Similar to 2x10. We have not seen a strong bout of activity as 16’ continues to be difficult to source, otherwise, there is reasonable availability in a well-balanced market for 2x12 to start the year.
The stud market has remained on relatively calm footing for the past few weeks. We’ve seen a bit of a pinch on 2x6-104 supply recently.
We’re anticipating appreciation on 2x4-92s as we get a little closer to spring. Supply changes at a couple BC mills as well as the spread vs 16’ material should see numbers up from current levels.
Not much has changed for MSR heading into the new year. In both 2x4 and 2x6 18’ availability remains especially tight on all grades. The spread between 2x4 1650 and 2x4 #2&btr remains fairly narrow, so it is a great opportunity to take advantage of that value.
Availability for 2x4 and 2x6 2100 remains limited with sparse tallies. As well, 2x8 MSR has not changed in the new year, as we have very limited availability but there has been less demand in the prairies, which has created a nice balance on the product.
The plywood market fell off 2% last week on print. We had been hovering at aggressive numbers that we have noted for quite some time near lows over the last several years.
This 2% drop takes us even further down but our outlook remains the same. These levels offer good value if you have spring business coming up, and are a safe bet as there is limited downside at this point in time.
While it may slip slightly, realistically, mills cannot afford to have it come off much more. So looking at your plywood needs now is a good option for spring. It will not take much to firm things up if there is perceived market strengthening. Mills will be quick to try and push their files out and shore up numbers to improve return if there is a bounce.
There was decent activity last week on the heels of a number of small blocks done at some Western Canadian distributors. We seem to have established a floor when these blocks were done. Two recent blocks, one before the Christmas break and one this past week that saw support in the 245-250 mark, FOB Edmonton. This is up approximately $50 CDN from what we experienced through most of last year. Curtailments and contract reductions at a number of mills have pulled production out of the market. When this is met by increased demand, we will see OSB edge up. For now, it appears we are perhaps seeing a new bottom.
The mill has added another week onto transportation, so when quoting mill production for the week of 1/20, they are adding 2 weeks for transportation. We have received feedback that there have been numerous delays for already purchased products. Buyers are waiting to receive wood purchased in the last round.
Due to the cold weather spell, we will see more delays on the truck and train routes. The result may be to have to look further out on needs but overall, we are into a narrow trading band on OSB.
Please keep in mind that we have well-priced weekly Lumber, Plywood and OSB contracts. We also have fully stocked inventories with LTL options to cover any necessary requirements.
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