While logging conditions have improved and most mills have adequate log supplies, lumber demand may outpace production increases this fall.

Between Independence Day and European vacations, July is typically one of the slowest hardwood sales months. Business did slow this July, but not as much as in past years, nor did summer overproduction drive down prices to the extent it often does.

Only a few species/grades of lumber were in excess supply, and even in these, price changes were more like adjustments than collapses. Importantly, demand has picked up in August and exporters are looking forward to strong fall activity in many markets.

The hardwood industry continues to restructure, with several companies acquiring production facilities and announcing plans to increase productivity. Already, green lumber availability is down and common woods such as Poplar and White Oak are not readily available.

Residential flooring will remain a bright spot, especially in the South and Appalachian Area 1, where strong strip flooring sales will bump up #2&3A Com Oak prices.

Watch for imported flooring to take a larger market share during the housing recovery, however; Jan-Jun 2012 imports were 80% higher than during 2009’s recessionary low.

Cabinet and furniture plants were seasonally quiet in July, but will gradually become busier as new home construction and remodeling tick up over the next several months.

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