Almost 59% of North American hardwood lumber exporters surveyed last month are exporting a higher percentage of their production in 2011 than in 2010, with only 7% exporting a lower percentage. Exports declined slightly in May, however, according to reports from both U.S. and Canadian shippers as well as foreign buyers.

Contacts reported reduced U.S. hardwood shipments to Mexican distribution yards in May. Even so, increased purchasing by maquiladoras (Mexican manufacturers that ship most of their goods back into the U.S.) offset reduced purchasing by distribution yards and kept overall Mexican demand at a healthy level.

European demand for North American hardwoods also slipped, although business conditions varied greatly from country to country. Activity in Italy and Germany was fairly decent, for example, while business in Ireland and Greece remained depressed, and distribution yard closures impacted shipments to some Scandinavian destinations.

Chinese imports of U.S. hardwoods grew steadily from December through March, and March was easily the biggest month in at least three years. Yet Chinese demand also slowed in May. Several exporters believe new demand from Chinese buyers has slowed because there are so many loads of lumber on the water now.

. U.S. hardwood exports rise; Europe imports  fall

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