The Weekly Hardwood Review Leading Hardwood Demand Indicator (LHDI)—a forecast of future demand for U.S. hardwood lumber based on residential and commercial construction, import/export trends, inflation levels, and job markets—declined to a nine-month low of 112.1 for January 2014 due to seasonally slower home building activity and the delayed impact of recent declines in existing home sales.
However, favorable trends in jobs markets, low core inflation and expectations of seasonal rebounds in home building and lumber exports pushed the LHDI for February up to 118.8. Notably, both the January and February 2014 readings compare favorably to the base year of January 2013 (LHDI=100).
December was a good month for the hardwood lumber industry. A number of producers said that, while December is normally a struggle, orders were available this year for those with lumber to sell.
Other comments were similarly upbeat:
“Business was a real barn burner last quarter, and the last half-year was fabulous.”
“Our margins were much better this year and we are optimistic about the future.”
Hardwood exports to Asia and Mexico were brisk during the first three weeks of December and then container loadings for shipments to Asia tapered off as the shipping deadline for pre-Chinese New Year arrival approached.