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Most of North America remained in the grip of truly harsh winter weather last month, so it’s no surprise that February housing starts in the US continued drops seen in January.

Compared to February 2020 total residential starts in the US last month fell by -9.3% to a 1.42 million annualized rate, from 1.57 in the same month one year ago.
As in January, permits for future homebuilding again rose sharply compared to one year ago, this time by +17% to a rate of 1.68 million units last month compared to February 2020 when it was 1.44 million.

US Housing Total and 1-Unit Starts January & Benchmark Softwood Lumber Prices February 2021

WSPF-SYP-ESPF-2x4 Softwood Lumber Prices-2 year-US Housing Total & 1-Unit STARTS: FEB 2021
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February starts of single-family housing, the largest share of the market and construction method which uses the most wood, fell by -1% compared to February 2020, at 1.04 million. Once again providing good indication for an increase in near-term future home building, single-family permits, meanwhile, were at 1.14 million, a significant jump of +12.5% compared to the same month last year, when it was 1.00 million units.
Shrewd investors know that construction framing softwood lumber prices are a good leading indicator for US housing activity, including home building and home sales.
Don’t miss out, get lumber price data updates directly to your desktop every Friday morning:

As for lumber prices, again staying flat from the previous week, in the week ending March 12, 2021, the price of benchmark softwood lumber commodity item Western S-P-F KD 2×4 #2&Btr remained level at US$1,040 mfbm, said Madison’s Lumber Reporter. That week’s price is +$42, or +4%, more than one month ago when it was $998.

Compared to the price one-year-ago, of US$446 mfbm, benchmark softwood lumber item Western S-P-F KD 2×4 #2&Btr was again selling for US$1,040 mfbm which is +594, or +133%, more.

Benchmark Softwood Lumber Commodity Western Spruce-Pine-Fir Price: March 2021

Western Spruce-Pine-FIr KD 2x4 #2&Btr prices MAR 2021
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STAY AHEAD of US housing starts data by getting access to softwood lumber prices. Released every Friday for that week, since 1952 Madison’s Lumber Prices is used by the forest products industry as a price guide for North American construction framing dimension softwood lumber. These are, of course, the inputs into US and Canadian home building materials.

Madison’s Lumber Prices, weekly, are a good forecast indicator of US home builder’s current lumber buying activity ——> DETAILS

Madison’s Benchmark Top-Six Softwood Lumber and Panel Prices: Monthly Averages

Madison's Softwood Lumber Benchark green and KD Construction Framing Dimension Softwood Lumber Prices MAR 2021
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Benchmark Softwood Lumber Prices Flat as Demand Flows to Alternate Commodities

For the week ending March 12, Western S-P-F purveyors in the US were busy again. Players noted there was no room for hesitancy in this market, as anyone who slept on an order lost it. Sawmill order files were pushing into April.
Canadian Western S-P-F dealers saw demand perk back up as order files at sawmills extended into the week of April 5th and rail car supply improved marginally. WSPF 2×4 prices topped out last week at an astonishing $1,040 and demand didn’t miss a beat as customers searched for other items.