Hardwood Review's Fourth Quarter Species Forecasts soft maple prices to stay high - they've climbed almost a third in just under two years - while white oak prices will soften marginally as Asia reduces its buys in the face of Europe's economic troubles.
Soft Maple sales have steadily increased over the last 16 to 20 months, during which time prices for some items have climbed more than 30%. Improving outlooks for new home starts, residential remodeling and commercial construction bode well for this species so widely used in cabinets, moulding and commercial millwork. While price increases have so far done little to disrupt Soft Maple demand, additional increases could have that effect. Soft Maple sales will remain brisk, but prices will remain at or very close to current levels into early 2013.
European buyers have replenished upper-grade White Oak inventories and most will settle back into “replacement-only” purchasing mode for the next several months, avoiding speculative purchasing until the economic outlook improves.
The fragile European economy will also impact Far Eastern demand for #1 Com White Oak, a fair percentage of which is used to make furniture and flooring for European consumption. Overall, White Oak export volumes will be decent and prices will only soften marginally, as demand will stay relatively good in markets not impacted so heavily by Europe’s difficulties.
Green 4/4 #2&3A Com White Oak shipments will stay brisk to residential flooring plants, but 5/4 #2&3A Com will slow to truck trailer flooring plants as their sales turn down.
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