In August, lumber demand for American hardwood for Far Eastern markets was quite strong by historic standards, but down a bit from previous months.

Shipments to China slowed, in part due to government efforts to slow the housing market and “chase inflation down.” Despite temporary slowing, Chinese domestic demand for North American hardwoods is growing, and distributors are setting up in more and more mid-sized cities to supply local demand.

Sales were steady to Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia, and improved to Taiwan and Thailand.

U.S. hardwood lumber exports rose in June, to a total 114 million board feet (MMBF), a 15 percent increase over June 2011 and the highest June volume since 2006. Shipments to China set a new record for the second straight month, reaching 47 MMBF. 

Exports declined in July and then slowed a bit further in August relative to the robust first-half pace. But as noted, August was higher then the year prior.

European markets were very quiet in August, partly due to holidays and partly due to economic difficulties. Construction spending, one indicator of economic activity, was 5.6% lower in the EU-27 this June than in June 2011.

German and British markets—which had been performing well—slowed a bit in August. Belgian, Danish, Irish, Dutch, Estonian and French markets were all slow. U.S. hardwood lumber shipments to Italy, Spain and Portugal were down 42%, 20% and 23%, respectively, through June, and these markets remained slow in August.

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