Prepare a 4-5 Week Lead Time to Your Purchasing Strategy

We've reached the halfway point of March and with it the expiry of the March futures contract. Confusion and uncertainty seem to be setting the tone as we look forward, and many feel this mood is going to be with us for some time yet.

We did see a much flatter print to wrap up the previous week. The overall tone in the market has shifted to one of an abundance of caution from consumers. The purchasing speed and volume seem to have slowed in the immediate term, as many buyers across the entire market spectrum are feeling a sense of concern over the direction that pricing will go as we wrap up March and move into April. 

There seems to be a tiered system setting itself up as larger mills continue to have a reasonable order file. However, the bigger concern continues to be the challenges in shipping. Sentiment has developed that a strong pullback in numbers is being met by mills with resistance, as there doesn't seem to be an interest in trying to quote and entice further purchasing at lower numbers on materials they still cannot ship. 

Rail issues continue to plague the system across all product lines, with little to no sign of improvement seen over the last couple of weeks. Some feel that there should no longer be any impediments to rail improving, yet at the same time, we do not see enough car supply to satisfy needs with the mills woefully behind schedule in shipping.

At the same time, regional mills that are focusing on truck traffic into the local markets have expressed slight interest in listening to negotiation on pricing if there is a sense that shipping is attainable in a prompt manner. This is still seemingly very case-by-case, as the trucking situation remains a problem. The same issues being faced at the national level are still very prevalent at the local level, with truck availability being extremely hard to pin down. 

At this point, order files continue to be reported as strong. The concern being felt by some is that if there is a fairly strong pullback on purchasing throughout the market, and if we do see the clock run out on the ability to wait, along with a rush to cover needs, the shipping concerns may not improve. This may lead us to find many consumers once again stuck waiting on further material as we look toward an improved building season moving into April and May. 


Supply & Distribution Update

With diesel prices at near-record highs, costs for shipping rapidly increasing, railcar and truck availability remaining significantly strained, a substantial amount of bought material late on shipment, and the likelihood of a Canadian Pacific strike, the challenges facing the supply and distribution of lumber products continue to culminate and add to the uncertainty in the lumber market. With these challenges in mind, we strongly suggest incorporating 4 to 5 weeks of lead time into your purchasing strategy. 

These challenges will not be going away soon, and adapting one's approach to procurement by looking further out at your material needs to avoid the "just in time wood" approach is one of the few ways to exert some individual control in this uncertain market and assure your material arrives when it's needed. 

In the last few weeks, we've seen more dimensional and MSR material available on mill direct with mill order files remaining strong and current offerings averaging between 3 to 4 weeks out. 

Panel remains a challenge to procure, and there also remains a significant number of late plywood loads needing to make their way through the supply chain to end-users.

Distribution continues to be a strong option used by many playing the waiting game on pricing and as coverage on late deliveries. 

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News We Are Following

World News

NAHB Calls for Us to End Lumber Tariffs, Boost Domestic Production

Canadian Forest Industries

“Historically high price levels for lumber and other building materials are dramatically affecting home prices and rental costs and threaten the nation’s economic stability,” said NAHB Chairman Jerry Konter, a home builder and developer from Savannah, Ga. For this reason, NAHB has urged the Biden administration to not only increase US timber production but to also rework the softwood lumber agreement in place with Canada that would eliminate tariffs. 

Read More

 

Three Trees Icon

Forestry Documentary Looks to Cut Through Misconceptions

Russell Hixson - Journal of Commerce

Can sustainable forestry help to manage the global climate crisis and bolster economic activity? Carbon Capture, a new documentary by the Forest Products Association of Canada shows how this is viable by rebutting critics of the industry and highlighting its benefits. “Forestry is a really complex business and as governments, Indigenous peoples, and communities put a higher value on reducing carbon and addressing climate change, we have some massive solutions in forestry,” says Derek Nighbor of FPAC.

Read More

Watch the documentary here.

 

Industrial Strike Icon

Canada, U.S. Shippers Brace for Possible CP Rail Strike, Latest Supply-Chain Disruption

Rod Nickel - Reuters

Just as commodity prices are spiking and supply chains are stretched beyond their limits, CP Rail workers considering a strike that could make things worse across the continent. Each day that a strike affects transport could cause weeks of havoc after the strike ends. A strike could see over 3000 workers walk out any time after midnight on Wednesday, although the required 72-hour notice has yet to be filed. 

Read More

 


Dimensional Lumber

Summary

The dimensional market certainly does feel softer to start the week. After a flat print and a modest uptick over the previous couple of weeks, we really have seen a solid 3 weeks with minimal activity and takeaway in the market. This doesn't really surprise many, as the high prices, coupled with the challenges in shipping, have held up sales for the most part.

Consumers had purchased to fill their needs in the immediate term, giving themselves enough time to perhaps sit back a little in this unsettled time for shipping. With the softening of print, this is emboldening many to feel that further pricing reductions are imminent.

Again, the flipside continues to be the challenges in trucking, so this is something we will be watching closely. However, we are seeing a bit of a spread opening up between national mills, regional mills, as well as the wholesale and distribution community in the immediate term.

2x4

Availability on 2x4 looks to be improved on mill lists, but again, shipping is the main concern. Both 14’ and 16’ are still at a premium on print, but they are not necessarily commanding the same strong value on random loads if mills can ship and are willing to discuss numbers to move prompt material.

2x6

It felt like there was a little less interest last week on 2x6, as opposed to 4”, which is not overly surprising with the market having a bit of a quieter tone overall. 

Softening in 6” pricing does seem to be hitting the marketplace again, prefaced on the availability to ship material in a timely manner. 

There certainly seems to be an abundance of 16’ material available as well.

2x8 & 2x10

The 8” and 10” markets have really quieted down over the last several weeks, with a decreased overall interest in that span. 

We are seeing availability improve, and mills once again may look to discuss pricing and options, if and only if shipping is a prime factor. 

2x12

Availability on 2x12 through lists looks to be better this week. Pricing on those lists is quite firm. However, we do believe that the actual market may be below ask prices from those that are interested in purchasing and coming back with firm numbers. 


Studs

Stud demand eased and remained flat through the week, sapping most upward momentum that had been prevalent in weeks prior. Purchasers remain fixed to the sidelines hoping for clearer market direction to develop. 

Mill order files extended into mid-April and have given customers pause as many remain under-inventoried but not under-bought as they await orders placed weeks ago that are delayed and still sitting at the mills. Heavier reliance on LTL supply has become more prevalent for purchasers with weakened appetites for risk while also being leaned on to fill holes created by delayed orders.

Logistics issues have not improved,  and fundamentally one could argue it's worsening with the rise in fuel costs. The next few weeks will be critical in ensuring ample inventory is available to your customers as the weather improves and the days get longer. Ensure your spring inventory needs are covered, either on the ground or in the pipeline. 


Treated Lumber

The treated market is looking to start ramping up as we turn the page on March and start focusing on spring. 

Reports that the market has improved overall seem to be materializing, and the sentiment that there should be a decent amount of takeaway to start the season is being felt throughout. 

The treaters themselves haven't been overly active in purchasing or replenishing material over the last few weeks, which tells us that their finished goods on ground supply are probably in a decent position for the time being. 

This situation may see the treaters stay out of the market, particularly in some of the wides, hoping to see an opportunity to purchase at lower numbers to improve their overall cost. However, treated pricing to the consumers at this point looks to remain firm and is up in most cases from the spring buy level.


MSR Lumber

Although not as busy as previous weeks, MSR sales at most mills were strong last week. Mills' inability to ship, either by truck or rail, has kept pricing firm on most items. If there is a lane available for them to ship to, sales are happening quite quickly, and mills may listen to minimal potential counters. 

Our truss customers continue to report that they are busy with quoting and slowly getting orders. Most have order files out at least 4 weeks or more. The majority of the inquiries we are receiving are for material to be delivered over the next 2 to 3 weeks. This time frame is still quite problematic for trucking availability.

We do encourage our customers to look at their next 4 to 5 week needs and to at least cover a portion of those, as it doesn't appear that transportation issues will begin to be resolved over that time. 


Panel Products

Summary

The panel market sent mixed signals last week as availability seemed to improve, specifically in OSB. We saw a relatively flat print on OSB to finish the week, with plywood printing flat. However, the overall availability of cash material still remains fairly tight.

Plywood

A flat print on plywood wasn't overly surprising as the market seems to have found a bit of a balance point over the last few weeks.

As we start the current week, most mills are off the market, with reports that when they do come back to market, based on order file, as well as the challenge faced in shipping, rail, vans, and Super-Bs, the order file will be into early May. 

We feel that with the order file and the transportation issues lingering, the plywood market is going to hold firm moving through March and into April. It's hard to paint a scenario where we would see plywood drop as we move toward spring, and reports continue to dictate that overall field inventories in plywood are quite lite, which tells us that there will need to be another round of purchasing to replenish stock and inventory levels for the upcoming spring season. 

OSB

At the start of last week, we saw a drop off in inquiries, with most buyers just feeling out where prices were in their respective markets. But as we approached the back half of the week, they had completely stepped away from any inquiries due to cheaper wood being offered out from multiple distributors for what seemed like the first time in 3 to 4 months. 

This, combined with greater concerns over global markets and overseas conflicts, has created a sense of hesitation among buyers. 

While transportation issues still persist, OSB getting into western markets that were sold weeks prior via truck have been improving and delivering relatively on time. 

Friday, print was modest, but prices were being offered out slightly below those seen in the week prior. 


Market Experts

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, please give us a call.

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