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North American Panel Prices Recover as Building Season Winds Down

November 05, 2019
Author: Keta Kosman

Construction framing dimension softwood lumber prices have risen slightly in recent weeks, while oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood prices have absolutely soared. There are fewer panel producers than there are dimension lumber manufacturers in western North America (on a relative basis), and they are typically more disciplined with their production volumes during times of soft demand.

Such a sheer change in price, whether up or down, suggests a new relationship dynamic in negotiations between panel buyers and sellers. As western North America and Canada enter the storm season and California faces devastating wildfires, it is likely that demand for panels in reconstruction projects will be strong. This could be an early signal that new price levels for OSB and plywood are here to stay for the 2020 home building season in the US. Of course, only time will tell.

Madison’s Lumber Reporter reminds that at this time last year, record-high lumber prices were nearing the end of a five-month freefall. The graph below illustrates the change in direction, and prices are now heading upward after sustained lows of 2019. The price of benchmark panel item Oriented Strand Board 7/16” Ontario shot up C$35, or +15% to C$275 msf, at the end of October while Plywood 9.5 mm Toronto rose C$20, or +5% to C$430 msf. Sales volumes advanced last week in dimension, studs, and panels products after an early-week post-NAWLA surge in demand.




On an historical basis, OSB prices have plenty of recovery room. Prices of OSB 7/16” Ontario are up C$3 relative to the one-year rolling average price of C$272 msf, however they are down $103, or -27%, relative to the two-year rolling average price of C$378 msf.


Market Feedback

Eastern SPF plywood mill order files recently pushed into the week of November 25th, while OSB order files were beyond November 11th. Plywood sales were in good shape heading into early November, said manufacturers. With multiple recent closure and curtailment announcements, demand for OSB has been strong.

Western SPF OSB prices had already started inching up prior to the recent mill curtailment announcements and when the dust settled, those prices had vaulted anywhere from +$71 to +$107. For their part, WSPF plywood mills remained firm on pricing, with mid-November order files.

We will be watching the market carefully in the coming months after two recent industry developments in Canada were announced: Canfor announced a bid to go private, and Conifex sold its Fort St. James timber rights to Hampton, which plans to build a new sawmill within 36 months.


On-Demand Market Data

Madison’s weekly lumber prices are a good forecast indicator of US home builder’s current lumber buying activity!

Madison’s Lumber Reporter allows customers to tailor an individual weekly lumber report to their own needs. Interactive filters can be saved for quick and easy drill-downs to the exact products you need to make decisions, and these views can be printed and downloaded. Other highlights include:

  • All prices are available on a single screen.
  • A single click takes subscribers to a Product Detail page with two years of price history and the ability to look at pricing in comparison to economic indicators (housing starts, GDP, etc.).
  • Toggle between prices and commentary (commentary and data are matched at every point).
  • The Price Sheet can be filtered, searched and sorted.
  • Comparisons of current week's prices to previous time periods, including one- and two-year rolling averages, are provided.
  • Custom Analysis—comparisons of historical prices for multiple products over a ten-year history—can be performed as needed.
  • The current week's commentary is provided in an easy-to-read narrative format, organized by topic.

Is your current lumber report this easy to use?

View a video demo or visit the website to learn more about Madison's Lumber Reporter.


Madison's Lumber Reporter


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