U.S. hardwood lumber exports set a record, totaling 114 million board feet in February 2013, a new record for the month. Monthly shipments to China surpassed 50 million board feet for the first time, despite the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Whatever lingering resistance Asian buyers exhibited to further price increases in March seemed to fade in April. Many had slowed purchases in previous months in hopes of improving supplies and lower prices in the spring. That seasonal uptick in production came later and was much smaller compared to other years, however, leaving many scrambling for lumber and forcing them to buy at higher prices than they were refusing several months ago.
In April, warmer weather bolstered construction activity and hardwood demand in parts of Northern Europe. Business was slower in Southern Europe, however, and even buyers in the busier Northern markets were reluctant to build much inventory.
U.S. hardwood lumber exports to Latin America were up 11% through February, but only because Mexican demand increased 14%. Shipments to what were the next 7 largest markets at the start of 2012 were 66% lower this Jan/Feb.
Exports to the Middle East and Africa trended up in April. Demand was strongest in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, though business activity also increased in the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.
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