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Lumber price down and log exports up

Lumber prices and volumes are still down int the U.S.
While many experts (including me) expected a 2011 recovery, April
housing starts cam in at 523,000, which is 24% below the April 2010 SAR figure. Furthermore, looking at lumber price futures today, July prices are down about 5 %. In this environment, the good news continues to be exports. Exports of lumber and logs from WA, OR, CA, and AK showed a strong first quarter. Softwood log exports were up 51 percent and softwood
lumber exports were up 53 percent. Combined softwood and hardwood
lumber exports were up about 30 percent over the 1st quarter of 2010.
The dominate importer of U.S. lumber was China, which imported
1.7 million cubic meters in the 1st quarter. China was followed by
Canada, Mexico, and Japan. In looking at logs, China was also the leader. In the 1st quarter of 2011, China imported 1.23 cubic meters of hardwood and softwood logs combined from the U.S. This is about is this is about 2.5 times what they imported in the 1st qtr. of 2010.
So where will wholesale lumber prices and lumber suppply go from here? I don’t see the traditional spring activity and have little hope for summer. Realistically, for the domestic market, I think lumber suppliers need to hold down the fort until 2012. Also, I would venture to say that, where as before being involved in global markets was a choice, it has almost become a necessity.