North American hardwood exports were somewhat lower in September than in August. Buyers in several Far Eastern markets slowed purchases while they worked through recently delivered shipments. European and Middle Eastern markets started the month very slowly but showed a little more life during the second half of September.
U.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled 107 million board feet in July, the latest month for which trade data are available. It was the highest July export volume in history. Shipments to each of the eight largest Asian destinations were significantly higher during the first seven months of 2012 than during the same period in 2011. Year-to-date shipments to Canada and Mexico were up 9% and 10%, respectively.
Exporters and overseas agents said the Chinese market for North American hardwoods slowed some in September, though it remained the most active market for many exporters. Though supplies of most North American hardwoods are contracting, Chinese buyers were still shopping prices heavily.
Exports to Europe were marginally higher in September than in August, but down from past Septembers. Inventory replenishment, not new demand, was the primary driver of purchasing. Large fluctuations in euro-U.S. dollar exchange rates, along with ongoing financial problems in Europe, had buyers feeling unsettled.
Year-to-date U.S. hardwood lumber exports through July were up 10% to Mexico. In September, 3 out of 4 survey exporters who rated demand for both China and Mexico, said Mexican demand was as strong or stronger than Chinese demand.
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