It’s probably true that lumber traders mostly enjoy stories having anything to do with the housing market. After all, we’re in the wood business. More houses in the works? More lumber to be sold. At least that’s the theory. The stories of Canada’s recent housing market however, point to complexities – even disconnect among regional market variables, not to mention government policies aiming to curb overheating, assist realtors in diffusing any ‘bubble’ talk. While sales are now falling in every major housing market across Canada, in contrast, the rebounding U.S. real estate market has been well-documented at Harderblog. Says The Financial Post here: “After almost six years of crashing, burning, and stagnating, the U.S. housing market is finally shooting higher. Coincidentally, this steady warming trend is occurring as Canadian housing prices are cooling and, according to a recent TD Bank report, are set to be all-but-frozen for the next decade.”
I learned more about the U.S. housing outlook last week, when Dakeryn joined over 400 other manufacturers and distributors in the building materials industry at the LMC Annual in Anaheim, California. LMC now has member retail lumber yards in all 50 states; over 400 dealer representatives attended their show. Talk about a solid cross-section where gauging market sentiment is concerned – if there had been an ‘optimism meter’ on the vibrant show floor, it might have exploded. With order files stretching 3-4 weeks, major western lumber producers arrived at the show with big new exhibits (lagging indicator?) but little wood. Dealer outlook was all positive, with spring demand projected to keep markets tight into May. Truckload and LTL fill-in business is expected to intensify, as both procurement and risk teeter in the minds of anyone buying wood products today. Traders will be closely monitoring fresh U.S. housing data due this week, including starts tomorrow and existing home sales Thursday.