In a recent editorial, we said, “Stronger markets will make everyone feel better in 2013.” In the first full week of the New Year, that’s certainly true. Respondents to our survey reported stronger demand and higher prices for a wide variety of hardwood lumber items. Lumber companies continue to give sales results for 2012. Reports showed average growth of about 10% over 2011, and many expect to repeat that growth this year.
The railroad tie industry got some good news last week. The compromise tax bill that Congress passed to avert the fiscal cliff also reinstated a tax credit for short-line railroads retroactively for 2012 and for 2013. The credit is intended to stimulate investment in track maintenance, and the Railway Tie Association estimates the reinstated credit will generate demand for an additional 500,000 to 1.2 million ties in 2013. Crosstie demand has been steady at an historically high level of late.
Last week, residential flooring producers were actively looking for lumber. Flooring demand was good, with prices for a number of items increasing. Cabinet manufacturer said sales were fair and some could use a bit more lumber. Demand from the wood furniture sector was poor, though many industry analysts still expect 2013 to bring long-awaited sales improvements.