Wood Week in Review: As the economy perks up,  housing and home remodeling sales show signs of life, key factors in cabinetry, furniture, flooring and a host of wood products sales. New home sales for December rose 17% over November, says the Dept of Commerce.

Meanwhile the National Assn. of Realtors (NAR) said its Pending Home Sales Index, a forward looking indicator based on contracts signed to buy homes,  increased 2.0 percent  in December to 93. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.

Forecasts for remodeling have also taken a rosier turn, as the NARI forecasts improved conditions for 2011. 

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, credits good affordability conditions and economic improvement. “Modest gains in the labor market and the improving economy are creating a more favorable backdrop for buyers, allowing them to take advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions. Mortgage rates should rise only modestly in the months ahead, so we’ll continue to see a favorable environment for buyers with good credit,” he said

Among other upbeat reports:

The positive trends may have influenced another set of contracts: large exhibitors, some of whom missed big woodworking shows over the last two years, will appear at AWFS Fair. Other top stories this week  include a report of a settlement of a class-action suit over mobile homes built with formaldehyde-laced wood products, and Canada gets its comeuppance in long-running lumber dispute with the U.S.:


Formaldehyde in mobile homes settlement A $2.1 million settlement could resolve a multiyear Federal class-action suit filed on behalf of thousands housed in the trailers after Hurricane Katrina.over formaldehyde gas emitted by particleboard, flooring materials, glues and adhesives in cabinetry, bunk beds and bench seats of mobile housing. >>
Canada broke Soft Lumber Agreement, says London Court of International Arbitration, ruling Quebec and Ontario subsidies break lumber trade rules, the court ruled in the U.S>'s favor and levied a $60 million fine for unfair lumber subsidies.>> 

Ethan Allen's Q2 sales rise 21% Ethan Allen Interiors Inc., a manufacturer and retailer of home furniture, posted sales of $173.3 million for its second quarter, an increase of 21.0% compared with the prior year quarter.>>

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