Softwood lumber prices drop slightly as autumn approaches

September 16, 2020

By: The Working Forest Staff

MADISON REPORTER — Madison’s says standard construction framing dimension softwood lumber commodities could level off. As supply improves a seasonal drop in demand has occurred. However, the massive wildfires in the U.S. west coast — which have already caused huge damage to property — and looming storms in the U.S. southeast, could bring a surge in lumber and especially plywood demand for repairs and rebuilding of damaged or destroyed property.

Most Western S-P-F customers in the U.S. got spooked by the recent yo-yoing futures board movement, culminating in a more even pace of sales last week. Sawmills kept their prices flat for the most part and continued to see strong demand, but the fever-pitch of buying in recent weeks subsided. Sawmill order files were into early- or mid-October and delivery times stretched ever-further as rail service worsened. Fires in the Pacific Northwest were on everyone’s mind as a deadly fire season raged in California, Oregon, and Washington State.

Canadian Western S-P-F sawmills described a continuation to the pause to sales they saw burgeoning the previous week. For the first time in months, small amounts of cash wood made their way to U.S. customers. Demand was definitely quieter as many customers waited to catch up on previously booked shipments. However, plenty of hungry buyers were still searching for limited material. October order files at sawmills were commonly reported. Meanwhile, transportation only got worse as arrival times were into two- to four weeks. Recent rail car supply percentages were in the mid-60s for one large producer and reducing each week.

For the week ending September 11, 2020, softwood lumber prices flattened or dropped for the first time in many months, with benchmark softwood lumber commodity item Western S-P-F 2×4 down -$6, or -0.6 percent, compared to the previous week, said Madison’s Lumber Reporter. Prices for this construction framing dimension softwood lumber item is up an incredible +$214, or +29 percent from one month ago, when it was U.S.$746 mfbm. Compared to mid-September 2019, this price is up an astonishing +$584, or +155 percent.

With the weekly price dropping for the first time in many months, compared to one-year-ago last week’s Western S-P-F 2×4 price rose by +$503, or +110 percent, relative to the one-year rolling average price of U.S.$457 mfbm and was up +$544, or +137 percent, compared to the two-year rolling average prices of U.S.$411 mfbm.

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