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Madison's Lumber Reporter - Softwood Lumber Prices & US Housing Starts: June and May 2020

VANCOUVER, BC , June 18, 2020 /CNW/ - The USA purchases approximately 65% of Canadian lumber production mostly for construction framing, while Canadian buyers account for about 10%, and those in Japan take 6%.

However: US and Canadian customers purchase mostly standard grades (#2&Btr), while Japan buys almost exclusively premium or "appearance" grades (J-grade) which sells for quite a bit more than standard grade does.

Benchmark Construction Framing Dimension Softwood Lumber Prices and US TOTAL Housing Starts: June & May 2020 (CNW Group/Madison's Lumber Reporter)
Benchmark Construction Framing Dimension Softwood Lumber Prices and US TOTAL Housing Starts: June & May 2020 (CNW Group/Madison's Lumber Reporter)

* Madison's Lumber Prices, weekly, are a good forecast indicator of US home builder's current lumber buying activity ——> DETAILS

For the week ending June 12, 2020 , prices of most standard construction framing dimension softwood lumber items remained flat, with benchmark item Western Spruce Pine Fir KD 2x4 #2&Btr still at US$378 mfbm, as the week before. The price for this benchmark lumber commodity was up +$18, or +5% from one month ago. Compared to the same week in 2019 when it was US$376 , this price is up +$2, or +1%.

June 17 , 2020 "The stock of houses under construction fell -1.4% to 1,172 million units, the lowest since November 2019 ." — US Commerce Department

Dropping slightly from one year ago, last week's Western S-P-F 2x4 price fell - $3 , or -1%, relative to the 1-year rolling average price of US$381 mfbm and was down - $19 , or -5%, relative to the 2-year rolling average price of US$397 mfbm.

Benchmark Construction Framing Dimension Softwood Lumber Prices and US 1-UNIT Housing Starts: June & May 2020 (CNW Group/Madison's Lumber Reporter)
Benchmark Construction Framing Dimension Softwood Lumber Prices and US 1-UNIT Housing Starts: June & May 2020 (CNW Group/Madison's Lumber Reporter)

Privately-owned US housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 974,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. This is +4.3% above the revised April estimate of 934,000, but is -23.2% below the May 2019 rate of 1,268,000. The May 2020 increase recouped only a fraction of the more than -40% cumulative decline in homebuilding in March and April.

Single-family housing starts in May were at a rate of 675,000; this is +0.1% above the revised April figure of 674,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 291,000.

Single-family building permits increased +12% to a rate of 745,000 units in May. Permits for multi-family units surged +19% to a rate of 475,000 units.

Western Spruce-Pine-Fir KD 2x4 #27Btr Dimension Softwood Lumber Prices: 2018 to June 2020 (CNW Group/Madison's Lumber Reporter)
Western Spruce-Pine-Fir KD 2x4 #27Btr Dimension Softwood Lumber Prices: 2018 to June 2020 (CNW Group/Madison's Lumber Reporter)

Softwood Lumber Prices Stabilize Even as Inventories Remain Weak

After a wild ride down then up over the past few months, most standard construction framing dimension softwood lumber prices stabilized last week, to levels both producers and customers are comfortable with. Inventories remain spotty as sawmill production is still constrained and buyers continue to look for highly specified loads only.

Purveyors of Western Spruce-Pine-Fir commodities in the United States described last week as similar to the previous one as most customers had their near-term needs covered and continued to be careful in their dealings. Players reported good consumption levels in Western and Southwestern states.

The largest producers of Western SPF in Canada noted that business came in fits and starts last week. Around midweek a large block of 2x4 R/L #2&Btr was snapped up with alacrity, but the remainder of the week was more focussed on digestion, as field inventories weren't as depleted as usual. Order files were now into the week of July 3rd on most items, with sawmills running two- to three-weeks late on existing orders.

The below table is a comparison of recent highs, in June 2018, and current June 2020 benchmark dimension softwood lumber 2x4 prices compared to historical highs of 2004/05 and compared to recent lows of Sept 2015 (CNW Group/Madison's Lumber Reporter)
The below table is a comparison of recent highs, in June 2018, and current June 2020 benchmark dimension softwood lumber 2x4 prices compared to historical highs of 2004/05 and compared to recent lows of Sept 2015 (CNW Group/Madison's Lumber Reporter)

STAY AHEAD of US housing price data by getting access to softwood lumber prices. Released every Friday for that week, since 1952 Madison's Lumber Prices is used by the forest products industry as a price guide for North American construction framing dimension softwood lumber. These are, of course, the inputs into US and Canadian home building materials.

Shrewd investors know that construction framing softwood lumber prices are a good leading indicator for US housing activity, including home building and home sales. Don't miss out, get lumber price data updates directly to your desktop every Friday morning:

Established in 1952, Madison's Lumber Prices is your premiere source for North American softwood lumber news, prices, industry insight, and industry contacts. The weekly Madison's Lumber Reporter publishes current Canadian and US construction framing dimension lumber and panel wholesaler pricing information 50 weeks a year and access to historical pricing as well.

Madison's offers a variety of products to meet your information needs regarding the North American forest products industry including:

Madison's Lumber Prices: https://madisonsreport.com/products/madisons-reporter/
Madison's Heating Wood Pellet Prices: https://madisonsreport.com/products/madisons-north-american-heating-wood-pellet-price-report/
Madison's British Columbia Coast Log Prices: https://madisonsreport.com/bc-coastal-log-prices/
Madison's Forest Pulse
: https://madisonsreport.com/products/forest-pulse/
Madison's Canadian Sawmill Listings: https://madisonsreport.com/products/madisons-directory/

SOURCE Madison's Lumber Reporter

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