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North American Lumber Industry Starts 2018 in High Gear

January 19, 2018
Author: Keta Kosman

Demand, especially from retailers, continues to be so strong that many North American sawmills are actually able to grow their order files.

As Madison’s anticipated at the end of 2017, the North American lumber market is back in high gear as customers in Canada and the US keep up with high demand.

Significant volumes of 2x8 construction framing lumber arrived at the US eastern seaboard from various EU sawmills (generally Germany but also some Scandinavian countries), which—once it was ripped down to 2x4s—proved to not meet US building standards. This sent desperate-for-supply resellers in the locations directly affected to several ESPF producers in Canada.

Otherwise, sawmills are back and running after holiday breaks, maintenance and weather closures. Log supply remains the biggest concern in the west, as many operators are still waiting to find out how much of their respective timber access has been directly impacted by the massive wildfires last year.

Customs brokers operating on the US border inform Madison’s that—in a usual but aggravating move to “err on the side of caution”—due to lack of clarity on specific product HS codes, US Customs and Border Protection has decided that shakes and shingles made in Canada are, for now, subject to the softwood lumber duty.


Current Softwood Lumber Prices Compared to Historical Highs

The table below is a comparison of June 2017 and January 2018 prices for benchmark dimension softwood lumber 2x4 prices compared to historical highs of 2004/05:

 Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 11.46.37 AM.pngSOURCE: Madison’s Lumber Reporter


The graph below illustrates 10-year price trends for WSPF, ESPF and SYP KD 2x4 #2&Btr:

 Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 10.16.26 AM.pngSOURCE: Madison’s Lumber Reporter


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