North American hardwood exporters reported increased business in September, as did buyers in most of the larger world markets. Activity was generally the strongest in Asia and Mexico, with European demand only marginally higher. International buyers encountered some shortages, and many that had hoped for lower prices by fall showed greater acceptance of continued price increases.
Several Chinese contacts said the real estate market is heating up again and driving new demand for furniture, cabinets, flooring and trim. North American exporters seem to agree, with more than half indicating “much higher” September demand for lumber in China. More than half of exporters also reported higher demand from Vietnam, and the majority of those said their sales were “much higher.”
Distributors in the United Kingdom reported very modest growth in hardwood demand in September. Several exporters noted increased shipments to Germany for domestic consumption. However, German secondary wood products exporters continue to be impacted by weak demand in Southern Europe, heavy competition from imported goods, and increased substitutions of non-solid products.
In Italy, building construction and consumer markets were quite slow, though decent exports of secondary wood products kept overall hardwood demand level.
In July 2013—the latest month with available trade data—U.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled 113 million board feet, surpassing last year’s record July volume by 6%. Exports to each of the 7 largest non-Canadian markets were higher this July than last, with shipments to China setting a July record and shipments to Mexico at a 61-month high.
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