Reduced U.S. hardwood sawmilling capacity is a major driver of the steady increases in hardwood lumber prices over the past year, and has only been compounded by a very wet spring and logger shortages.
Since May 11, 2012, prevailing prices for many kiln-dried items have risen 10 to 20%, and strong flooring markets have driven up green #2&3A Common red oak and white oak prices 50% or more. Most items will see additional price increases in the months ahead, as the uptick in supply we anticipated by this time may not show up until August.
U.S. housing markets will continue to improve with the economy, though not at the rapid pace of recent months. However, hardwood lumber exports to Asia and Mexico will continue to outpace 2012 levels, offsetting any impacts of slower housing.
In March 2013, U.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled 111 million board feet, 3% below Feb 2013 and 1% below March 2012. Combined shipments to non-Chinese destinations increased 6% in March, but shipments to China slid 15% as some Chinese buyers didn’t re-enter the purchasing arena immediately after Chinese New Year. However, they are now back in the market and purchasing large volumes of lumber.
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