US hardwood sawnwood prices stable but sawn softwood prices continue up

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Softwood sawnwood prices in the U.S. rose by 27.4% in September, leading the overall price index of materials and components for construction up 2.1% from August, seasonally adjusted, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics latest producer price report.

According to the report, the price of softwood sawnwood has risen 81.2% over the last 12 months. In contrast, the price of hardwood sawnwood has fallen by 1.4% from a year ago, although it did rise by 1.7% from August to September.

Softwood sawnwood prices, both for framing sawnwood and for plywood products, rose even more strongly in September than in earlier months. While the accelerating price of sawnwood shown by the report is remarkable, other sources indicate that the worst might be over.

The National Association of Homebuilder’s tracking of sawnwood prices indicates that prices peaked in the middle of September and were easing by the end of the month. Still, futures prices for Spring 2021 deliveries remain higher than sawnwood prices early in 2020.

That sawnwood prices are being driven higher by sawmill capacity is indicated by the fact that prices for timber have been relatively stable. They are up only about 5% from the lows they hit in the spring and are trading below the peaks they reached in early 2018.

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