Softwood Lumber Price Decline Largest in Seven Years

Softwood lumber prices fell 10.3% in October—the largest drop since May 2011—according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The producer price index for softwood lumber has fallen 21.2% since setting the cycle and all-time high in June (see below). Even after the decrease, however, the index currently sits just 4.7% lower than the prior-cycle high set in 2004.

The final demand price index for OSB has followed a path similar to that of softwood lumber over the last three months.

Since climbing 38.1% in the first seven months of 2018, OSB prices have fallen 16.6%. The price index for OSB is now 15.2% and 15.7% higher than it was to start 2018 and 2017, respectively.

Residential construction goods input prices increased 0.4% in October and have now risen 7.5% over the last twelve months. The index decreased only twice during that period, by 0.1% and 0.5% in December 2017 and August 2018, respectively. Year-to-date residential construction goods input price increases in 2018 (+5.6) continue to outpace the increase during the same period in 2017 (+2.9%).

Gypsum prices fell 1.6% in October, continuing what has been a relatively volatile year. The price index for gypsum products is 6.3% higher than it was to start 2018, but the year-to-date price increase masks large fluctuations within the year. Consecutive-month increases of 5.4% and 6.1% have been partially offset by two-month decreases of 3.3% and 1.8%.

The last several large increases in the gypsum price index has been foreseeable, as large wallboard producers sent out price increase announcements in the March-May and October-December periods. These announcements informed customers that wallboard prices would increase effective as of January or June/July, depending on the announcement date.

Ready-mix concrete prices declined 0.5% in October. After a large price increase (relative to historical data) in early 2018, prices of ready-mix concrete dropped and have remained essentially unchanged since July.



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