Lumber pricing spikes in the aftermath of Japan's massive earthquake. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange reported pricing on May lumber futures rose 0.7 percent to $311.10 per 1,000 board feet. Japan is a leading market for hardwood lumber exports, and reconstruction will increase demand significantly, with likely impacts on U.S. domestic pricing.

In Southern Yellow Pine, the market continues to drop but at a relatively slow pace, reports Bill Nocerino, manager, lumber division, at Forest2Market, Inc. "We saw a mixed bag of ups and downs across all grades and dimensions with volume not being where it should be for this time of year," Nocerino says. "The general comment in the market this week was that it was too slow for March and that this year is tracking along the same path as 2010. That is not exactly what folks were hoping for after the last couple of tough years. Overall, our weekly composite fell $7 to $280."

Lumber price spikes on Japan earthquake, tsunami
Transportation for wood exports and product imports will be affected by the constraints on Japan's shippers. Seattle, Vancouver and Portland, OR - major ports of departure for lumber heading to Japan and Asia - were not impacted by the tsunami that followed Friday's earthquake, according to news reports. But some Japanese ports are not ready to accept shipments, and NYK Group's Japan-China Express shipping line was temporarily suspended.

On March 10 a shipping consortium known as the Grand Alliance - Hapag-Lloyd (HL), Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), and Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) - announced expanded Trans-Pacific West Coast services. The Japan China Express (JCX) is slated for relaunch in May, in conjunction with the competitive restructuring of the Central China Express (CCX), South China Sea Express (SCX), and Super Shuttle Express (SSX). The CCX schedule will concentrate coverage to Central China and Pusan, while the SCX will provide transit from Vietnam’s Cai Mep deepwater port to Los Angeles. The SSX will offer a super shuttle express to the market from South China and Hong Kong together with direct coverage in Fuzhou.

Lumber pricing is reported regularly at Woodworking Network from a variety of sources, including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange data on lumber futures pricing. Charts here show hardwood export pricing trends from presentations at the North American Wholesale Lumber Assn. conference in Nov. 2010.

Lumber price spikes on Japan earthquake, tsunami


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