We are halfway through February already and the prospects of spring are not far away now. That means the anticipation of better weather, as well as an uptick in the building season, is near.
There has been a tremendous amount happening in the markets, not all of it is directly related to lumber but it’s certainly having a psychological effect through every step of the system, from mills to end-users. Whether it is the CN blockades and their effect on the overall commodity market, the continued global concern over the coronavirus (not only the human lives suffering but also the economic toll that may affect the market at large) or the continued reaction to the countervailing and anti-dumping duty update.
It has been a lot to digest in the market over the past week or so. This has all brought plenty of speculation as to the direction of the market in the short term.
Transportation & Shipments
We are seeing struggles in the Western provinces and extending toward Eastern Canada, as there has been a lack of available trucks. We have been hearing comments from sawmills, along with those at the distribution level, where there is a real shortage causing problems and delays on shipments. This could continue, especially if demand picks up into the spring months and we don’t find a solution.
Mills are now quoting production weeks instead of shipment weeks at this point so they are being very cautious on delivery times. This isn’t related simply to lumber as we’re seeing issues across the broader economy at large.
The Longest Forestry Strike Ever on Vancouver Island is Over
After an 8 month standoff between Western Forest Products and the United Steel Workers Union, a deal has been made with almost 82% support from Union members.
Up to 3,000 Forestry Workers & 50-Truck Convoy Hold Rally at BC Legislature
Thousands gather on the legislature lawn to bring attention to the importance of the revenue created by the forestry sector. This rally is in response to the government’s plan to increase limits on the amount of old-growth harvests permitted.
Dimensional lumber has surged yet another week with strong price appreciation. Mills reported strong takeaway once again on the US front, while the smaller regional mills continued to sell out production and came out aggressively higher with new ask levels across the board with fresh availability.
There has been a huge amount of price appreciation in 2x4. Mills are falling back on the multitude of events and strong demand to raise ask levels and push order files out.
Our concern in the immediate term is that if you are caught and need to get covered, you will be paying a significantly higher price.
Consumers’ thoughts then turn to the medium and long-term effects, and whether prices will continue to push up, hold firm, or if we will see a pullback.
The 2x6 market is being pulled along by the surge in 2x4 but the demand has not been as robust. We certainly expect the 6” pricing to continue holding firm. The demand for 10’ product remains strong, while the glut of 16’ material that seemed to flood the market has appeared to be absorbed, resulting in a more balanced 6” market.
The overall 2x8 market had a strong takeaway over the past several weeks as prices have surged up and availability has been more sparse. Long length prices are quite strong yet again with spotty availability, so proceed with caution if you consume 2x8 longs.
There was a tremendous amount of activity with extremely strong price appreciation. There has been very limited availability from mills, so as mills come out with new stock and new runs this week and into next week, expect higher prices. We anticipate 2x10 prices to hold at this point in time as the new market levels have been set.
The 2x10 pricing was lower than it should have been for some time, so looking back now, this price move is not as unexpected as it seems. It needed to appreciate and it was only a matter of time before it did so.
The takeaway was fairly robust on 2x12 as it was trailing the rest of the market. We should see 2x12 come back on the market this week with firm prices to slightly higher. Availability will be the biggest question at this point.
The stud market continues to roll along, firming up with everything else. We still see very tight supply in the #2&btr stud market across all dimensions, specifically in 2x4 and 2x6 104s, which have been very difficult to find. Offerings are being taken off lists very quickly and prices have skyrocketed, which has caused concerns for some end-users. We have been seeing a great deal of demand for those dimensions.
Even demand for 2x4 and 2x6 92s is strong. Difficulty finding #2&btr studs continue to be a problem and we aren’t expecting a reprieve in the short term. Prices are up and holding firm across all studs at this point and supply remains a struggle.
As with the stud and dimensional #2&btr market, we have seen a fairly sharp increase in pricing over the past couple of weeks. We have also seen an increase in demand, although, with the price jump, many are not happy to have to pay at these levels.
With mill order files out from 2 to 4 weeks and with the need for material, along with many of our customers, we have been forced to move with the market prices. There does not appear to be any downside opportunity over the next few weeks as order files remain strong. We are encouraging our customers to review their needs over the coming 4 or 5 weeks. Time is always a benefit to help customers with such inquiries.
All material, 2x4, 2x6 1650 and 2100, are showing higher prices anywhere from $20/m to $40/m over the past week or two and we expect this to continue or move even higher over the next few weeks with 2100 being especially difficult to get coverage on.
Keep an eye on your inventory levels and make sure your immediate needs are covered. Contact us for the most up to date pricing and availability.
The panel market had another interesting week, more so on OSB than on plywood.
Plywood continued its relatively firm but measured sales pace. Mills have pushed into the second week of March on rail and Super-B shipments. We are still showing the first week of March on vans.
We like that the plywood market has been cautious about its approach to selling, pushing its order file, and slowly raising prices. We have not seen a large spike, allowing consumers to feel confident in their purchasing decisions even as prices do push up slightly.
There is still good value in plywood. We anticipate a stronger takeaway as we move into spring. The east could certainly participate in a big way and prices are still at very acceptable levels when compared to historic trends.
OSB showed another huge jump on print last week. This was followed by one of the major producers coming on and then backing off the market again, pushing order files out to April.
The OSB market has been frantic over the past couple of weeks as consumers try to gather all they can at older price levels, as numbers continue to drive up. It certainly poses a conundrum for many consumers with regard to how much of their needs they can cover off. We have seen OSB pull back after a sharp run-up similar to this in the past. With that said, in the immediate term, it’s difficult to imagine a short turnaround, so we may be sitting at these levels for the foreseeable future.
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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