U.S. hardwood lumber exports rose 14% in March 2014 from the prior month to 142.8 million board feet, the second highest monthly total ever recorded. Exports to virtually every region of the world were higher in March than in February, as were Q1 2014 shipments relative to Q1 2013.
Year-to-date 2014 exports through March were up 41% to China, 15% to Vietnam, 13% to Mexico, 33% to the United Kingdom, and 29% to Italy. While exports to Canada were at a 24-month high in March, year-to-date volume lagged the 2013 pace by 3%.
Worldwide demand for North American hardwoods was fairly strong into April, but some markets cooled off in May, particularly in Asia. Chinese purchases slowed as in-country inventories had grown quite large and buyers were hoping for price relief in the summer.
A handful of Vietnamese furniture manufacturers lost production time and suspended inbound shipments due to last month’s riots, and additional white oak and poplar price increases also sidelined some Vietnamese buyers. Frustration with rapid price increases was, in fact, a widespread complaint among foreign buyers last month. Many refused to pay more, especially for red oak.
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