U.S. hardwood lumber exports remained strong in March 2012, the latest month for which trade data are available. Shipments totaled 112 million board feet (MMBF) for the month and 316 MMBF for the first quarter of 2012. Through March, export volume was 8.6% ahead of last year.
Combined, Asian markets accounted for 55% of all U.S. hardwood lumber exported in the first quarter of 2012, making these markets crucial for a healthy North American industry. First-quarter shipments to China were down a little relative to Q1 2011, but shipments to the eight other major Asian markets grew significantly. Several contacts said Chinese demand is still growing, but buyers have been somewhat hesitant to place new order because they are receiving more offers and anticipating lower prices.
The falling value of the euro, declining economic activity in Italy, high unemployment in Spain and uncertainty about Greece’s future were some of the factors that held down European demand last month.
Mexican market might be characterized as very steady and very slowly growing. Monthly shipment fluctuations are much less than those seen to Asian and European markets.
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