During periods of uncertainty in either the lumber or panel market, when the future prices of product are in question and at a standstill, a game of “Chicken” will develop between the mills and buyers. Purchasers will buy as little as possible, only to fill inventory holes, while the mills will curtail production and attempt to lean on shrinking order files, refusing to budge on price to get orders. Spruce, and to some extent OSB, are both currently in such a state and it seems SPF may have been the first to blink. The substantial fall in pricing that began in March and lasted through June flattened out again after about a 10% bounce off the bottom. While OSB and panels have been able to continue a slightly upward direction, the spruce mills have had to again start lowering prices to keep at least a few buyers interested. Southern yellow pine on the other hand remains firm due to lack of logs and limited availability. Though business remains strong in most sectors of the country and housing inventories are thin, there seems to be a cautionary approach exhibited currently by many lumber buyers. Most contractors remain extremely busy with healthy order files, but there is a bit of concern as to what longer term effects rising interest rates and overall inflation will have heading into the 4th quarter and next year. Multi-family and commercial business remain strong and continue to push forward with their projects. The fact remains that the U.S. continues to face a huge housing shortage. Our industry will continue to be one of the bright spots in the economy even if we begin to see a slight slow-down.
Some encouraging signs have been noted on supply and lead times for some product lines. A few of the window and cabinet manufacturers are reporting shorter leads along with exterior doors. Building materials in general are becoming more available with few exceptions. Adhesives and certain colors of aluminum continue to pose some problems. The flow of products from abroad has become much more fluid and hopefully will continue to move in the right direction. We hope everyone is continuing to enjoy strong order files and looking forward to getting the kids back in school.