Chinese domestic demand fueled growth in lumber sales to China, though price competition remained tough. One U.S. exporter said his Chinese customers had slowed purchasing in expectation of additional supplies and lower prices in May. Shipments to Vietnam and Japan were well above year-ago levels. Vietnamese and Malaysian manufacturers continued to benefit from a shift in manufacturing away from China into lower-cost regions.
Recessions in multiple countries and doubts about near-term recoveries reduced European demand for North American hardwoods in April. Buyers were also reluctant to increase inventories because summer holidays are approaching. Almost 60% of European contacts surveyed in April reduced purchases compared to March, while only 6% increased purchases.
Lumber exports to Mexico dipped in February, but reported indicated that shipments have since trended up. Lumber demand for manufacturing and re-export continues to grow as some Asian manufacturing moves back to Mexico and closer to U.S. consumer markets.
North American hardwood demand expanded in the United Arab Emirates and Turkey compared to March; was flat in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa; and declined in Pakistan. Holidays temporarily slowed Israeli purchasing.
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