MARCH 2023 BUILDING MATERIAL MARKET REFLECTION
The March market saw continued downward pressure across all lumber items for the first 2 weeks. An announcement from West Fraser curtailing production and some positive housing starts out of the U.S. pushed buyers off the fence as wholesales covered their positions and an underbought supply chain bought in to cover some upcoming spring needs. Softness crept back in to close out the month, adding to the confusion this market currently presents to buyers.
New Residential Construction Press Release (census.gov)
Lumber showed modest declines of 8%-10% on 2×4-2×6, Wides 2×8, 2×10 saw more downward pressure of 15%-20% decrease. Studs were up flat on most trims but 2×4-92 5/8” posted a 10% gain for the month. Prices remain soft with downward pressure as we move into April.
After bouncing along the bottom for the past 6 weeks OSB finally cracked as a couple of major producers looked to move off some built-up inventory. Dropping 10% and close to reported break-even levels to find orders.
Plywood also showed some cracks in March, causing one producer to announce some production curtailments. Prices were down 11% for the month.
We are seeing truss production starting to outpace new orders, but with new home sales remaining stronger than expected in the Alberta region this may just be a short-term blip. Supply on LVL and joist is back to normal conditions, and price decreases continue to be seen on most items.
Most other building materials and finish products remain in good stead. Some products coming from overseas are running behind schedule. Exterior drywall is still exceedingly difficult to source. We expect to see some price decreases moving into quarter two. Most of the delays we see are due to logistics as trucks have been difficult to source.
Looking Through the Crystal Ball
History shows that January / February is typically the low point of the market, with spring right around the corner we may have seen the bottom. With reports, the pipeline is underbought heading into spring a pickup in demand might be seen as the weather continues to turn for the better.