Robust North American hardwood lumber exports continued in November to most regions except Europe. Shipments to China bumped up slightly in advance of Chinese New Year, and sales were brisk to most other Southeast Asian destinations.
Several contacts reported higher European demand; most did not. Increased exports were noted to emerging Middle Eastern markets. Mexican business was stronger. North American lumber supplies tightened—especially in Poplar, FAS/1F Red Oak, and #2&3A Common Red Oak and White Oak—and prices for many green and kiln-dried items moved higher. While foreign buyers were generally accepting of price increases, some pushed back or looked for less expensive substitutes.
In September, the latest month for which trade data are available, U.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled 113 million board feet (MMBF), a 21% increase over September 2011. Exports in 2012 are now on pace to surpass the 2006 record of 1.34 billion board feet. Exports to Asia grew strongly during the first 3 quarters of 2012. Shipments to China alone were up 43 MMBF, while Vietnam, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia collectively upped their purchasing by 48 MMBF.