Random Lengths structural panel composite edges US$1 higher to US$289/msf as buyers retreat, cut purchases to a minimum, following U.S. credit rating downgrade

LOS ANGELES , August 14, 2011 () – The Random Lengths structural panel composite edged US$1 (0.35%) higher in the week ending Aug. 12 to US$289 per thousand sq. ft. (msf), but it is $4 (1.37%) lower than the price at this time last year ($293/msf).

Activity on OSB markets faded as the market continued to react to Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating. Some buyers withdrew completely while others cut purchases to a bare minimum, according to Random Lengths' weekly market report. With order files booked into late August or even September in a few cases, producers held firm on price on the basis that they could hold out for longer than their customers.

Quotes on the benchmark grade, North Central 7/16 in., were reported above $200/msf, although few sales closed at that level. The reported price was $8 (4.28%) higher than the week before at $195/msf - up $25 (14.71%) from the price at this time last year of $170/msf.

The OSB composite edged $1 (0.47%) higher to $212/msf, and is $8 (3.90%) above the year-ago level of $205/msf.

Southern plywood prices remained largely unchanged during a week of slow trading, although towards the end of the week an uptick in activity extended many order files into the week of Aug. 22 and some into the following week. Some producers were prepared to open to modest counters on some items, and one plant on the eastside lowered rated sheathing quotes by $10 or more.

The reported price of Southern plywood westside CDX 15/32 in. 3-ply dropped $3 (1.05%) to $284/msf after two weeks at $287/msf, taking it $21 (1.05%) lower than the price at this time last year of $305/msf (6.89%).

Southern plywood westside CDX 15/32 in. also moved down by $2 (0.68%) to $293/msf after holding at $295/msf in the two previous weeks, and is $17 (5.48%) lower than the price a year ago ($310/msf). Random Lengths noted that 15/32 in. 3-ply was available at $282/msf on Friday, and 4-ply at $293/msf.

Southern plywood eastside CDX 15/32 in. 3-ply held at $320/msf for a second straight week, up $5 (1.59%) from the price at this time last year of $315/msf.

The southern pine plywood composite dropped US$1 (0.25%) to $404/msf, and was $20 (4.72%) below the year-ago level of $424/msf.

In Western plywood trading, sales were slow and prices generally remained unchanged, and most mills were booked into the week of Aug. 29. Secondaries often sold truckloads of ½ in. 4-ply sheathing at below $300/msf, while mills held quotes in a $315-$325 range. The reported price of Western Plywood Coast CDX 1/2 in. 4-ply held at $312/msf for a second week, up $5 (1.63%) from the price reported at this time last year ($307/msf).

The Western fir plywood composite held at the previous week’s level of $463/msf, down $27 (5.51%) from the reported level at this time last year of $490/msf.

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