Hardwood Publishing recently released the updated Leading Hardwood Demand Indicator (LHDI), a forecast of future demand for U.S. hardwood lumber based on residential and commercial construction, import/export trends, inflation levels, and job markets. The LHDI rises slightly from 128.3 in September to 129.2 in October (Jan 2013=100)—bolstered by ongoing strength in exports—then falls to 127.4 in November, on slow existing home sales, seasonal declines in non-residential construction, and ongoing weakness in jobs markets.
Hardwood lumber sales in September improved from August levels, and sellers widely anticipate better business in October. Prices for some species are still softening, though most buyers and sellers don’t expect them to go much lower. One seller said, “Red Oak prices appear to have reached a level at which buyers are more comfortable placing orders.” Demand was especially strong for Walnut and Hickory, particularly the ‘Rustic’ grades. Inventories of kiln dried lumber were said to be “Where they need to be.” With winter approaching, sawmills are anticipating log availability to become more of a concern. At this point, however, while there are a few areas with low log supplies, most mills are in decent shape.
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