U.S. softwood lumber production in first three months climbs 11.4% year-over-year to 6.630 bbf; output from Southern sawmills is 15.8% higher at 3.241 bbf: WWPA

LOS ANGELES , June 7, 2011 () – Production from U.S. sawmills in the three months to March 31, 2011, was 6.630 billion board feet (bbf) up 11.4% compared with the same period last year (5.952 bbf), according to the Western Wood Products Assn.’s (WWPA) latest Lumber Track report.

Of that total, western U.S. sawmills produced 3.039 bbf of lumber – 6.9% more than in the first three months of 2010 (2.842 bbf). Production at southern U.S. sawmills rose by 15.8%, from 2.798 bbf to 3.241 bbf.

Production figures for the month of March show an 18.8% increase from February’s production of 2.066 bbf to 2.453 bbf. Compared with March last year (2.129 bbf), production was up by 15.2%.

Western sawmills produced 1.158 bbf in March, up 24.3% from 932 million board feet (mmbf) in February, and 14.6% higher than the 1.010 bbf produced in March 2010.

Production in March at sawmills in the southern U.S. was 1.166 bbf, up 13.8% compared to February (1.025 bbf) and 15.8% higher than output in March 2010 of 1.007 bbf.

Consumption in the U.S. increased by 5.5% in the first three months to 8.300 bbf, up from 7.865 bbf in the same period last year.

In March alone, consumption rose by 21% to 3.067 bbf from 2.536 bbf in February. Compared to March 2010 (2.878 bbf), consumption was 6.6% higher.

Canada softwood lumber production/consumption

Canadian softwood lumber production was up 6.8% in the first three months at 5.652 bbf, compared to 5.294 bbf in the same period last year.

Of this total, production in British Columbia was 8% higher at 3.016 bbf, up from 2.792 bbf year-over-year. Output east of the Rockies was 2.636 bbf, up 5.3% from 2.502 bbf in the first three months of 2010.

Month-on-month, total production in March was 1.999 bbf, 10.1% higher than in February (1.815 bbf). Compared to March last year (1.924 bbf), production was 3.9% higher.

Production at sawmills in British Columbia increased 10.2% in March to 1.046 bbf compared to 949 mmbf in February, and was 9.6% higher than in March last year (954 mmbf). At sawmills east of the Rockies, output in March alone was 953 mmbf compared with 866 mmbf in February, a 10% gain. Compared with March 2010 (970 mmbf), production was down 1.7%.

Canadian softwood lumber consumption dropped 9.2% in the first three months from 2.394 bbf in the same period of 2010 to 2.173 bbf. In March alone, consumption was 746 mmbf, up 13.6% from February’s 657 mmbf but 1.9% lower than consumption in March 2010 (761 mmbf).

U.S. and Canada utilization/inventories

U.S. production as a percentage of practical capacity averaged 68% in the year to March, compared with 62% in the same period last year, while Canada's level rose from 56% in 2010 to 59%.

U.S. inventories increased by 6% from 3.234 bbf in March last year to 3.427 in the same month this year, while Canada's increased by 16.7% to 2.867 bbf from 2.456 bbf  in 2010.

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