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North American benchmark softwood lumber prices did indeed remain flat for the week ending March 19 as customers digested previous orders. However, prices of less-usual grades, sizes, and species did increase.

Industry players noted that the spread between #3/Utility grade and standard-grade #2&Btr has closed remarkably; in fact, those disparate items are selling for almost the same price. As well, prices of straight-lengths have risen as buyers search for replacement items in the face of incredibly strong benchmark commodity prices.

By way of comparison, in Western Spruce-Pine-Fir the benchmark item — most often quoted by Madison’s and the item most heavily represented in Futures pricing — WSPF KD 2×4 #2&Btr R/L remained at US$1,040 mfbm, while #3/Utility was selling for US$950 (which was also flat from the previous week). For it’s part, WSPF KD 2×4-8’ (also known as specified-lengths) was the hot item, selling for US$938 which was up +$20, or +2%, from the week before.

For the week ending March 19, even as sales waned according to Western S-P-F sellers in the U.S., the undersupplied nature of the market remained apparent. One savvy trader noted, “Inventory is your friend.” Sawmill order files were into the first and second weeks of April depending on the source and item. Logistical efficiency was also variable from mill-to-mill.

While Western S-P-F producers in Canada continued to emphasize strong demand, sales were definitely quieter last week. Sawmill order files were into the week of April 12 and shipments remained roughly three weeks behind that. Low grade was again a focus among active buyers as its discount to #2&Btr attracted more business.

Again staying flat from the previous week, in the week ending Mar. 19, 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. That week’s price is again +$42, or +4%, more than one month ago when it was $998.

Compared to the price one-year-ago, of US$440 mfbm, for the week ending March 19 benchmark softwood lumber item Western S-P-F KD 2×4 #2&Btr was again selling for US$1,040 mfbm which is +634, or +156% more.

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