The Weekly Hardwood Review Leading Hardwood Demand Indicator (LHDI)—a forecast of future demand for U.S. hardwood lumber based on residential and commercial construction, import/export trends, inflation levels, and job markets—rises from a reading of 128.4 in July to 135.5 in August (Jan 2013=100), with seasonally stronger exports, a spring uptick in new homebuilding permits, and increased non-residential construction all making positive contributions.
The LHDI falls back to 126.8 in September, as exports to Europe and Latin America recede from August levels, and slow existing home sales begin to impact remodeling activity.
Domestic sales of hardwood lumber have been fair in July, but with production increasing, sellers have had to work harder for orders than in prior months. Red Oak and Hard Maple prices are falling in many producing regions, and domestic and export buyers are on edge about where prices will be in a few months. Most contacts expect that business will be brisk during the fourth quarter into the first part of next year.
Export markets have been quieter in July, with buyers in Europe and Asia purchasing less. Through May, however, U.S. exports of hardwood lumber were up 17.9% in volume and 33.1% in value, and May volumes were the largest ever recorded at 150 million board feet.