Softwood lumber prices “waffle”

VANCOUVER — The decline in North American construction framing dimension softwood lumber wholesaler prices has stalled, according to Madison’s Lumber Reporter, with some prices even rising again. The Western Spruce-Pine-Fir 2×4 price settled where it had been two weeks ago. Trading of lumber futures on the Chicago Mercantile Commission, meanwhile, went from being on-par with the cash market for the January 15 contract to a discount of approximately $10 Monday. Trading volumes remained low as demand was muted in the usually-quiet week following the U.S. Thanksgiving long weekend. Some customers were willing to pay steady prices that sawmills were quoting, while many others preferred to wait and see if levels would fall even more.

As building slows for the season North America-wide, log buyers for China have been out actively sourcing wood in advance of Spring Break. This newer seasonal cycle, of large-volume log and lumber sales to Asia in the fourth quarter, tends to keep the bottom for annual Canadian and U.S. lumber prices higher than it was prior to 2011, when this new trend started emerging.