After eight weeks straight of price increases for framing lumber in which the Random Lengths composite price rose from $303 per 1,000 board feet in early March to $367 in late April, a 21% increase, prices fell in the first week of May to $358. This may be the first indication that lumber supply is beginning to increase to meet the rise in demand and to take advantage of higher prices.

Reports indicate that logs are flowing out of southern forests once again and that some sawmills have increased production. Also, several fingerjoint moulding and panel plants in Chile that had been damaged by the February earthquake have resumed production and shipments to the U.S., while others are slated to come back online over the next several weeks.

The lumber market in May is also seeing a reduction in export fees and higher quotas for Canadian lumber exports to the U.S. as a direct result of higher prices in March and April, under the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA). Based on continued high prices in April and May, all quotas and export fees on Canadian lumber will be eliminated for the month of June, with the exception of an extra export fee imposed on some provinces for a previous violation of the agreement.

The one remaining impediment to a greater supply of lumber and lower prices is a shortage of trucks to transport the material. Beyond that, lumber prices still could be on a roller coaster as export fees and quotas are adjusted each month according to the SLA formula based on previous weeks’ prices.

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