What’s subsequent for lumber because it seems to be 2022’s worst-performing commodity


Lumber has the doubtful honor of being among the many greatest commodity value decliners this yr, and the outlook for the market doesn’t look to enhance anytime quickly.

Random-length lumber for January supply

settled at $423.80 per 1,000 board ft on Nov. 29, down about 63% yr so far.

“CME lumber futures have been, by far, the worst-performing commodity futures in 2022,” says Walter Kunisch Jr., senior analyst at HTS Commodities. The “insecurity within the U.S. housing market, amid the sharp rise in rates of interest and mortgage charges, is creating headwinds and lackluster demand for lumber.”

U.S. new residential development declined in October by 4.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual charge of 1.425 million, in line with the Commerce Division. That could be a signal of weaker development exercise because the housing market struggles with quickly rising mortgage charges.

The Federal Reserve’s dedication to fight U.S. inflation, mixed with tightening underwriting requirements, is “scaring off would-be house consumers and has them operating for the protection and luxury of the rental market,” Kunisch says.

The nationwide common 30-year mortgage charge has softened over the previous few weeks to beneath 7%. However the latest charge, at 6.78%, remains to be at “highs not see since December 2001,” he says. And decrease home demand and powerful U.S. lumber imports have been a “flamable cocktail” for U.S. lumber futures costs.

In October, U.S. information confirmed multifamily housing begins decreased by 0.5%, whereas single-family initiatives fell 6.1%. Multifamily begins require much less complete lumber, they usually have additionally climbed as a proportion of complete housing begins, contributing to decrease lumber demand, says Scott Reaves, director of forest operations at Area Timber Advisors.

U.S. residential permits, which could be a bellwether for future house development, had been at a seasonally adjusted annual charge of 1.526 million in October, in contrast with 1.841 million in January.

Lumber could be an “financial bellwether” for the U.S. financial system, says Kunisch, and its detrimental value efficiency this yr is probably going indicative of a slowdown. The U.S. financial system grew at an annual 2.9% tempo within the third quarter, after posting two consecutive quarterly declines.

Area Timber Advisors expects a downturn in lumber demand over the subsequent two years or so, says Reaves. Demand might then begin to improve because the millennial technology reaches homebuying age.

Even so, lumber isn’t prone to return to, or maintain, the lately achieved pricing highs, Reaves says. Lumber futures hit a 2022 intraday excessive of $1,477.40 in March, the very best since Might 2021, in line with Dow Jones Market Information. The brand new lumber futures contract, which launched in August and has a a lot smaller contract unit sizing, will finally exchange the legacy contract. It traded at $532.50 on Nov. 29.

When it comes to provides, Reaves says there was a rise in lumber manufacturing services throughout the U.S. That increased manufacturing capability might tighten log provide over the subsequent 5 years, which “bodes nicely for timberland possession,” he says. House owners would have the flexibleness to promote their bushes in instances of excessive demand and curtail gross sales when demand is smooth, he says.

The NCREIF Timberland Index, which consists of 466 investment-grade timber properties, noticed a return of almost 2.4% within the third quarter, up from 1.9% for a similar quarter final yr, in line with the Nationwide Council of Actual Property Funding Fiduciaries.

Total, nevertheless, lumber is dealing with demand-related headwinds whereas provides and imports proceed to be accommodating, HTS Commodities’ Kunisch says. Whether or not the imports are a perform of a powerful greenback or rebuilding depleted provides, “slowing demand and rising provides should not a constructive combination” for lumber costs.

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