Western S-P-F producers in the United States reduced asking prices on some of their more commonly-traded commodities in an effort to entice circumspect customers. And in Canada, while prices remained wildly variable and confusing to buyers, downward pressure was evident for Western S-P-F lumber items. As we approach the time of year when most of the largest-volume lumber customers – the major US home building companies – have made their purchases for expected projects in the busy spring construction season, lumber demand usually softens. Last year this did not happen, but this year it looks like some of the usual seasonal cycles might be returning.
After several weeks staying relatively flat, for the week ending April 1, 2022 the price of benchmark softwood lumber item Western Spruce-Pine-Fir 2x4 #2&Btr KD (RL) was down -$107 or -8% from the previous week, at US$1,303 mfbm. That week’s price is down by -$80, or -6% from one month ago when it was $1,383.
Burgeoning construction activity continued to spread upward from the US South as spring weather descended on the higher latitudes of North America.
Players in the United States reported a widening of prices in the already-established two-tiered market for Western S-P-F. Sawmills showed more cash wood availability and got aggressive with their pricing, but buyers weren’t impressed with the typical four- to six-week shipping timelines. Order files at sawmills were only around two weeks out.
In Canada it was narrows which were the most affected by dropping prices, while that of low grades were comparatively firm. Western Canadian sawmills showed more availability as April approached, with order files listed anywhere from prompt to four weeks out..
Prices of Eastern S-P-F commodities continued to erode this week amid wary activity from buyers. Eastern Canadian suppliers reported better sales volumes as the week wore on and numbers drifted down to levels that drew some hesitant customers back to the table. Ongoing transportation issues kept traders on their toes. One veteran player noted that the inability of Canadian mills to ship on time has pushed a growing contingent of US buyers to source more readily available products, including SYP from Southern states and European spruce coming into US ports.
When compared to the same week last year, when it was $1,060, for the week ending April 1, 2022 the price of Western Spruce-Pine-Fir 2x4 is up by +$243, or +23%. Compared to two years’ ago when it was US$310 mfbm, this price is up by +$993, or +320%.