Hardwood Publishing has released its 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 steadily from 117.9 in February to 125.5 in March to 139.0 in April (January 2013=100), primarily due to seasonal factors. Increasing non-residential construction, low inflation, and expectations of seasonally stronger exports to Asia and Mexico all contributed to higher index readings over the next two months. Hardwood lumber production is expected to grow faster than demand, however, keeping prices under pressure.
In late February, lumber inventories were growing at hardwood sawmills. Concentration yards were being careful to limit incoming shipments and their own inventory growth. Residential flooring plants reduced lumber receipts as well, with several taking almost no lumber in February and limiting purchases for March.
Most have large inventories of air drying lumber and sales of finished flooring remain slow. Cabinet plants were as full as residential flooring plants and similarly limiting receipts. Pallet plants were busy and buying steady volumes of cants and lumber. Exports were relatively quiet, with many Asian buyers on holiday for Lunar New Year.
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