U.S. hardwood lumber exports reached a one-month record of 150.6 million board feet in May 2014, the latest month with available trade data. At $216.6 million, the value of May exports also set a record. All told, export volumes and values were up 18% and 33%, respectively, during the first five months of 2014 relative to the same period in 2013.
Shipments to China, Vietnam and Mexico — the largest non-Canadian markets — were each pacing at record annualized levels through May, and shipments to the United Kingdom and Japan were pacing at 13 and 10-year highs, respectively.
However, exports began to slow toward the end of May and the slowdown was increasingly evident in June, with both North American shippers and foreign buyers reporting reduced trade. Normal seasonal downturns in Europe and some Asian markets; higher inventory levels in many countries; red oak’s increased availability and softening prices; and expectations that other species would become more plentiful in future months all contributed to the slowdown. Buyers pushed back harder against red oak prices in June, and showed the first widespread signs of resistance to additional white oak price increases.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.