U.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled 129 million board feet in May, down 2% from the prior month and 15% from May 2014. It marked the first April-to-May decline since 2003. Total year-to-date exports were down 9% through May, as sizeable declines to Canada (-7%), Asia (-10%) and Europe (-18%) easily offset an increase to Latin America (+3%). Shipments of Red Oak, White Oak, Poplar and Ash—the four most commonly exported species—were off 7%, 4%, 23% and 12% on the year, respectively. A March-May surge in Alder exports pushed year-to-date volume 3% ahead of the 2015 pace, making it the lone Top 5 species to show an increase.
Even though U.S. hardwood log exports were seasonally slow in May, year-to-date shipments were up 13%, including large gains in Poplar (+78%), Walnut (+54%) and Ash (+89%). In contrast, Red Oak log exports were down 17%.
In July, inquiries from China increased, but that market was still nowhere near as busy as in 2014. Meanwhile, shipments to Europe slowed dramatically, as buyers in several countries were on holidays. Reports indicated steady sales to Mexico, and that Middle Eastern demand returned to pre-Ramadan levels in late-July.
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