Despite drops from last month, housing starts and building permitting activity in the US are still occurring at a faster pace than one year ago.
In week ending April 10, 2020, benchmark Western Spruce-Pine-Fir 2×4 prices were US$310 mfbm (net FOB sawmill), unchanged from the previous week said North American weekly lumber price newsletter Madison’s Lumber Reporter . Last week’s price was down -$136, or -31%, compared to one month ago and is down -$66, or -18%, relative to the 1-year rolling average price of US$376 mfbm. The WSPF 2×4 price is down -$109, or -26% relative to the 2-year rolling average price of US$419 mfbm.
Meanwhile, the US Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly announced Thursday new U.S. residential starts tumbled -22.3% in March to a 1.22 million annualized rate, but were +1.4% above the March 2019 rate of 1,199,000.
Cumulative single-family starts for the first three months of 2020 are running +12.4% ahead of the pace for the same period last year, at an average pace of 962,000 units per month over the past three months.
Benchmark Softwood Lumber Prices April 2020 & US Housing 1-Unit Starts March 2020
Inventories of completed single-family homes remain exceptionally lean but prospective buyer traffic has dried up, which will likely keep builders cautious.
Single-Family Building Permits drop -12% from March
While single-family permits plunged by -12% to a rate of 884,000 in March, multi-family permits jumped by +4.9% to a rate of 469,000.
Benchmark Softwood Lumber Prices April 2020 & US Housing Total Starts March 2020
Shrewd investors know that construction framing softwood lumber prices are a good leading indicator for US housing activity, including home building and home sales. It is, however US house prices which have the best correlation to the movement and change of wood building materials. Don’t miss out, get lumber price data updates directly to your desktop every Friday morning:
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Madison’s Lumber Prices, weekly, are a good forecast indicator of US home builder’s current lumber buying activity ——> DETAILS