Global trade of softwood lumber fell by about 2.5 percent in 2012, with practically all of the major lumber-consuming countries reducing imports, following two years of increased trade, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly.
As a result of a weakening U.S. dollar, conifer fiber prices increased in U.S. dollar terms in multiple countries, and the Softwood Wood Fiber Price Index inched up 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $100.13 per oven-dry metric ton. The biggest increases from the third quarter to the fourth quarter occurred in eastern Canada, Finland, France and New Zealand.
Lumber production in the U.S. improved throughout 2012, with total output for the first 11 months being 8 percent higher than the same period in 2011, according to Western Wood Products Association.
Softwood lumber imports into China were lower in 2012 than in 2011. However, toward the end of 2012, housing activities and demand for lumber picked up, and fourth quarter imports were up 7 percent compared with the third quarter of 2012.