U.S. benchmark prices for lumber could rise around another 25% this year, according to Capital Economics, which added lumber to its coverage of agricultural commodities on Monday.
“We think that the price of lumber could rise further this year and possibly reach fresh highs, as three key factors which forced prices higher over 2012 have further to run,” said Tom Pugh, commodities economist at Capital Economics, in a note.
The resurgence in the U.S. housing market was “pivotal” to the recovery in lumber prices last year and “we expect this resurgence to continue,” he said. North American production is at its lowest levels since the 1980s. And “booming import demand from China” will continue to put upward pressure on prices.
On Monday, lumber for March delivery LBH3 +0.06% was trading at $352.20 per 1,000 board feet on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, down $6.60, or 1.8%. Futures prices jumped more than 50% last year to end 2012 at about $374, according to FactSet data.
Data released this month on U.S. home sales hasn’t been very upbeat. On Monday, data showed that U.S. pending home sales fell 4.3% in December.
A report last week on sales of new single-family homes showed a 7.3% fall in December. But for all of 2012, the government estimated that 367,000 new homes were sold, the highest level since 2009.
“Large falls [in lumber prices] are not likely until near the end of 2014 as some mills reopen, increasing supply,” said Pugh.