“A Growth Industry”

Another topical piece this morning from USA Today reports that while lumber futures prices fell 65% during the U.S. housing collapse (Feb ’05 – Feb ’09), lumber is now up 93%.  A number of key housing market factors are cited, offering “good reason to believe that timber will continue to grow” –

  • The current average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate is 3.55% (“holy-smokes-that’s-low category”)
  • Home prices are low. The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index gained 2.2% in May, but that’s still where they were in the summer of 2003
  • Buying beats renting in many cities
  • Inventory of new homes is at a 50-year low
  • Housing starts have grown at a seasonally adjusted pace of 23.5% since June 2011.

The author adds here that both production curtailments and transportation constraints are contributing to a tightening of wood supply.  “It takes more than a saw to produce lumber.  You also need people and trucks to cart it to sawmills and to market.  Truck drivers have gone on to other jobs.”

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