Lumber Prices Post Biggest–Ever Weekly Drop With Buyers Balking

(Bloomberg) — Lumber futures posted their biggest-ever weekly loss, extending a tumble from all-time highs reached final month as sawmills ramp up output and consumers maintain off on purchases.

Prices in Chicago fell 18% this week, the largest decline for most-active futures in information going again to 1986. Lumber has has now dropped virtually 40% from the report excessive reached on May 10.

Sawmills seem like catching up with the rampant homebuilding demand in North America that fueled a months-long rally, bringing some reduction to a market beset by provide shortages and value surges. Buyers are balking at nonetheless traditionally elevated costs and awaiting further provides, setting off a cascading sell-off, analysts mentioned.

“Activity yesterday was brisk to start, turned lethargic and ended quite subdued,” William Giguere, who buys and sells jap spruce with mills for Sherwood Lumber in Massachusetts, mentioned in a observe Friday. “There was plenty of lumber available from the mills and enough ambition to sell. Missing was the sense of urgency from buyers.”

Many consumers solely bought if obligatory, usually staying on the sidelines, CIBC analyst Hamir Patel mentioned Friday, citing an evaluation from Random Lengths. The intently watched commerce publication reported additional declines in a number of wooden merchandise that commerce on the money market, and pointed to an abundance of mill choices, Patel mentioned.

U.S. lumber manufacturing has responded to the value rally by ramping up output by 5% over the previous 12 months with one other anticipated enhance of 5%, or roughly 1 billion board toes, in response to Domain Timber Advisors LLC, a subsidiary of Domain Capital Group, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Resolute Forest Products Inc. is spending $50 million to extend its lumber manufacturing, the corporate mentioned Thursday. West Fraser Timber Co., the world’s largest producer, mentioned not too long ago that it’s increasing capability at 5 U.S. mills, whereas rival Canfor Corp. has mentioned it’s going to make investments round $160 million in a brand new sawmill in Louisiana.


Still, whereas lumber costs could lastly be pulling again from stratospheric highs, don’t search for a return to pre-pandemic ranges any time quickly, in response to BMO Capital Markets.

“‘Nosebleed’ prices won’t last, but strong demand, a limited supply response and a rising cost curve all point to above-trend prices for at least the next 12-24 months,” BMO analyst Mark Wilde mentioned in a observe.

Lumber futures slid 5.6% in Chicago to $1,059.20 per 1,000 board toes on Friday. Prior to the rally that began in mid-2020, lumber futures traded principally inside the vary of $200 to $600 since 1992.

With sturdy U.S. residence constructing anticipated to final for a number of years, lumber costs will doubtless stay above $500 per 1,000 board toes for the following 5 to eight years, mentioned Scott Reaves, forest operations director at Domain Timber Advisors.

“We’re at a new normal,” Reaves mentioned in a telephone interview. “We’re going to see this sustained level of housing demand and a new normal for a pricing floor in lumber.”

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