Wood Business

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Lumber prices rebound as confusion continues among players

February 3, 2021  By Madison's Lumber Reporter

Industry players in softwood lumber products across North America questioned themselves, and each other, for understanding on what was happening with market conditions. Prices, meanwhile, climbed again. While clarity was elusive about lumber sales, and particularly prices, one thing was crystal clear: housing construction activity and demand in Canada and the U.S. ended 2020 extremely strong. To have such a large number of home sales and rising house prices during the traditionally soft months of each year, bodes well for a continued very hot real estate and construction activity through 2021.

U.S. home sales and house price data for full-year 2020 shows a big jump over the previous year. Housing demand is not expected to abate for all of 2021.

“The lumber market rebounded, turning on a dime as prices shot back up amid limited supply.” — Madison’s Lumber Reporter

Sales of Western S-P-F in the U.S. rebounded last week as sawmills boosted their asking prices and customers scrambled to get their hands on any stick of wood they could find. Undersupplied buyers jumped on deals as they saw prices rising. Producers ran out of material quickly.


Canadian Western S-P-F sawmills fielded demand from virtually every region in North American, thus extended their order files into the week of Feb. 22.

Madison’s benchmark top-six softwood lumber and panel prices: monthly averages

With February looming, lumber prices popped back up to recover a drop toward the end of January. In the week ending Jan. 29, 2021, the price of benchmark softwood lumber commodity item Western S-P-F KD 2×4 #2&Btr jumped +$46, or +5%, to US$940 mfbm, from $894 the previous week. Last week’s price is +$6 more than it was one month ago when it was $894.

“After demand settled down somewhat the previous week, stocking wholesalers on the U.S. eastern seaboard described a return to craziness last week due to customers’ desperate inquiry. Frustrated buyers clamoured for material, more concerned were they with availability than price.” — Madison’s Lumber Reporter

Compared to the price one-year-ago, of US$402 mfbm, last week benchmark softwood lumber item Western S-P-F KD 2×4 #2&Btr was selling for US$940 mfbm which is +538, or +57% more.

The below table is a comparison of recent highs, in Sept. 2020, and current Jan. 2021 benchmark dimension Softwood Lumber 2×4 prices, compared to historical highs of June 2018 and compared to recent lows of Sept. 2015:

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