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US Housing Starts & Softwood Lumber Prices: October and November 2020 - Madison's Lumber Reporter

VANCOUVER, BC, Nov. 19, 2020 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) --

New home building in the US surged up by +5% to an annual rate of 1.530 million in October 2020 after soaring by +6.3% to an upwardly revised rate of 1.459 million in September. As in previous months, the increase was driven by single-family starts, which rose by +6.4% to 1.18 million. Compared to the same month a year ago, US housing starts in October 2020 were up by +14%, while building permits were up by +3%.

For the week ending November 13, 2020 the price of benchmark softwood lumber commodity item Western S-P-F KD 2x4 #2&Btr reversed recent drops, to climb +$10, or +2%, to US$590 mfbm, said Madison's Lumber Reporter. This week's price is -$370, or -39%, less than it was one month ago. Compared to one year ago, this price is up +$194, or +49%.

The USA purchases approximately 65% of Canada's dimension lumber production mostly for home construction framing, while Canadian buyers account for about 10%, and those in Japan take 6%.

US Housing Total Starts October 2020 & Benchmark Softwood Lumber Prices November 2020

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

November 16, 2020 "While prices of lumber and studs bottomed or bounced, OSB tanked, and plywood prices looked to be cracking." -- Madison's Lumber Reporter

US Housing 1-Unit Starts October 2020 & Benchmark Softwood Lumber Prices November 2020

Most important for the softwood lumber industry, single-family permits continued their seven-month streak of advances, rising by a modest +0.6%. This was offset by a drop in multifamily permits, down by -1.6%, the third consecutive month of decline. Overall, building permits were flat in October, at a 13-1/2-year high, after increasing by +5% the month prior. However, it is usual for home building and construction to slow down as the winter season comes on across North America.

"Eastern S-P-F Oriented Strand Board (OSB) prices finally cracked hard last week, dropping between $45 and $75, with availability described as beyond prompt. Prices of plywood somehow stayed firm on December order files at plywood mills, but players felt the dam was ready to burst. Secondary suppliers sold around $10 below replacement costs just to keep from accumulating too much volume. In Western Canada OSB prices plummeted between $100 and $130, while plywood price quotes lost three per cent across the board." -- Madison's Lumber Reporter

As market conditions stabilized, some North American construction framing dimension softwood lumber prices fell further, others were flat, and still others actually rose somewhat.

Just as has been said in many quarters in recent months; this is not a normal year and no one knows how 2020 will end. One thing is certain, as of mid-November there seems to be no stopping of demand for solid wood products and wood building material.

Benchmark Softwood Lumber Commodity Western Spruce-Pine-Fir KD 2x4 #2&Btr Prices: Nov 2020

Softwood Lumber Prices Stabilize in November

After a few weeks of seeming free-fall, most lumber prices stabilized last week as the supply-demand balance corrected nicely. Suppliers in Canada and the US saw more orders coming in as end-users continued to run on extremely weak inventories. Buyer reluctance in the past few weeks, while prices were falling and production remained high, evaporated. Customers could no longer wait to see if prices would fall further. Sawmill order files actually grew, for some products even into December which is quite unusual for this time of year. Producers fielded customer calls with glee, and looked forward to the US Thanksgiving holiday next week -- which is usually the end of substantial lumber sales across North America until the beginning of the following year.

A sense of urgency developed last week among buyers of US Western S-P-F. The market appeared to be reversing and persistently bare field inventories lit a fire under customers' collective cheeks. A resultant rush of business cleaned out most of the volume accumulated by both primary and secondary suppliers. Sawmill order files were pushed to at least two weeks out, with virtually nothing left for earlier shipment by the end of the week.

Last week manufacturers of Western S-P-F in Canada were able to harness the sales momentum they saw developing the previous week, keeping firm on pricing for materials they didn't push and selling at new levels. Prices of standard-grade, #2&Btr 2x4 R/L, and utility-grade #3 2x6 R/L, each climbed $10 to US$590 and US$300 mfbm respectively. Demand wasn't isolated to a few pockets either, as buyers from every corner of North America jumped in to cover their depleted inventories when they saw the market turn. Sawmill order files were all of a sudden into the week of December 7th, with prior availability drying up quickly on all other items.

Compared to the 1-year rolling average price of US$534 mfbm, last week Western S-P-F KD 2x4 #2&Btr was selling for +$56, or +10% more, and was up +$139, or +31%, compared to the 2-year rolling average price of US$451 mfbm. said Madison's Lumber Reporter.

The below table is a comparison of recent highs, in June 2018, and current November 2020 benchmark dimension softwood lumber 2x4 prices compared to historical highs of 2004/05 and compared to recent lows of Sept 2015:

          2x4 Dimension Lumber Prices: Current Compared to Recent and Historical Highs, and to Recent Lows

            to                           2020                                                                                            

       US$ per thousand board feet             Current:                            Recent

              %                                       All Time High

             %Change:                Previous

                                                             High:         Change                                          (Previous or                        Current vs                         Low:                     Change
                                                           June 2018                                                         Current)                        All Time High                             Sept 2015




              SYP East Side KD #2&Btr               $
            660                                                $
            550        20.0%                                 3Q2005                  $
            460                    43.5%   $
     311  112.2%

              WSPF KD #2&Btr                        $
            590                                                $
            622        -5.1%                                 2Q2004                  $
            443                    33.2%   $
     249  136.9%

              ESPF KD #2&Btr                        $
            660                                                $
            690        -4.3%                                 2Q 2004                 $
            529                    24.8%   $
     350   88.6%

              Douglas fir Green                     $
            580                                                $
            590        -1.7%                                 2Q 2004                 $
            500                    16.0%   $
     302   92.1%

              WSPF 2x4 STUDS (PET)                  $
            480                                                $
            445         7.9%                                 2Q 2005                 $
            445                     7.9%   $
     230  108.7%

    ---                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ---

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:

Keta KosmanPublisherMadison's Lumber Reporter, est. 1952Vancouver, BC, Canadawww.madisonsreport.com604 319-2266

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:'s Heating Wood Pellet Prices:'s British Columbia Coast Log Prices:'s Forest Pulse:'s Canadian Sawmill Listings:

SOURCE Madison's Lumber Reporter

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SOURCE: Madison's Lumber Reporter

Keta Kosman, Publisher, Madison's Lumber Reporter, est. 1952, Vancouver, BC, Canada,, 604 319-2266
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