U.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled 140 million board feet in June — the latest month with available trade data — which was down 7% from the record set just a month earlier, but 13% above June 2013 volume. Eight of the Top 10 export markets showed robust year-to-date growth through June, including China (+29%), Vietnam (+11%), Mexico (+17%), the United Kingdom (+40%) and Japan (+32%).
Export shipments usually pick up in August compared to July, as Chinese buying resumes; containers start to leave North American ports for post-holiday delivery to Europe; and Mexican demand seasonally strengthens. Many Chinese buyers did not reenter the market this August, however, but instead held out for lower prices, especially on red oak.
The possibility of lower prices also had many buyers in other Asian countries on the sidelines that would normally have started purchasing for fall by now. As such, August exports were relatively slow despite seasonal improvements in European and Mexican markets. Inquiry activity was quite good, suggesting solid underlying demand and higher shipments once buyers and sellers work through price negotiations.
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