In January, world markets for North American hardwoods were relatively slow, with nearly 75% of international buyers reporting reduced purchases compared to a typical month in 2011.
Ongoing economic turmoil in Europe continued to cast a long shadow on the global hardwood supply chain, impacting not only European companies, but also hardwood exporters in North America and secondary wood products exporters in the Far East. Chinese purchasing increased briefly in the middle of January and then slowed for Chinese New Year celebrations toward the end of the month.
Even though kiln-dried lumber supplies declined in the United States and Canada in January, supplies of many leading export items like upper-grade White Oak and common-grade Red Oak were still adequate in most producing regions. Poplar and Ash were relatively scarce, however, and low log inventories and seasonally slow kiln turns point to tightening supplies of all species during the next couple of months.
U.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled 109.9 million board feet (MMBF) in November 2011, the latest month for which data are available. Shipments to China set a one-month record of 45.9 MMBF.
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