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Temporary curtailments and shift reductions have taken place across a variety of other mills across the province, with declining production in BC set to weigh heavily on the outlook for the rest of Canada.

Continuing low prices, meanwhile, mean BC mills are still struggling to turn a profit, according to Taylor.

“Last year in February, prices peaked at $460 per 1,000 board feet for Western SPF [Spruce-Pine-Fir], and then they plunged to $350,” he said. “They stayed around $350 for the months of April, May, and June. So it was terrible. And those are below breakeven levels for BC mills.

“Currently, they’re at $440 – so very, very close to the peak of last year and trending slightly higher. So we have some positive side on the prices, but we’re still seeing no curtailments. If you’re buying wood off the open market, log prices are still too high, and so it’s making it tough for mills to make any money.”

Export markets contribute to gloomy overall lumber outlook

While the prospect of lower interest rates by the end of this year would be welcomed by borrowers and builders alike, it’s hardly a panacea for the woes of the lumber market, according to Taylor – particularly with rates likely to fall at only a moderate pace.

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