Posted February 17, 2021

WSJ: Lumber prices notch records on building, remodeling boom

Futures have surged over the past three weeks as the pandemic’s hottest commodity continues to be in high demand.

The Wall Street Journal: Lumber prices have shot to fresh records, defying the normal winter slowdown in wood-product sales in a sign that the pandemic building boom is bowling into 2021.

Records have been set across species, products and grades, according to pricing service Random Lengths. It has never cost more to buy oriented strand board, known as OSB and used for walls, Southern yellow pine, which is favored for fences and decks, or ponderosa pine, which is popular in cabinetry and interior trim.

Many engineered wood products used in new construction, such as I-joists, are in short supply, and mills are backlogged with orders well into March, the pricing service said. Last week, its Random Lengths Framing Lumber Composite price rose to $966 per thousand board feet, exceeding the $955 high set in September.

Lumber futures have climbed 49% over the past three weeks, to more than twice the price a year earlier. Lumber for March settled Tuesday at $992.40 per thousand board feet, eclipsing a mark set in September as the highest closing price ever.

Many buyers have jostled into contracts for May delivery, which ended Tuesday at $846.50. The cheapest and most distant futures, for lumber in March 2022, start at $700, which is more than the prepandemic record of $639.

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