Red Oak prices have jumped during the last few weeks, particularly in the Appalachian region. Rising exports, sustained high residential flooring industry demand, and improving shipments to moulding and stair producers all contributed, with exports providing the biggest pull by far. Most markets for Red Oak will gain additional momentum in November, straining supplies and pushing prices still higher. The sudden price increases of recent weeks will give way to more gradual gains.
U.S. White Oak lumber exports to Europe had already started to improve earlier in the year when the dollar was stronger against the euro and most of Europe was still in recession. With the dollar now much weaker and most of Europe out of recession, White Oak exporters to Europe should see even better demand through mid-December. Year-to-date White Oak exports to China and Vietnam were off 20% and 14%, respectively, through July, but only because common-grade supplies were lacking. Heavy purchasing by North American residential and truck trailer flooring factories will keep supplies of common-grade White Oak thin through year-end, and exporters will easily move all they have to offer at higher prices.
Among the individual prices we forecast, the only species for which we are not forecasting increases over the next two months is Poplar. This is not because Poplar demand won’t be strong. Domestic markets will be quite busy and exports will remain on a record pace. Poplar supply has simply caught up with demand and should track closely with it in the near-term.