Saw log prices fell throughout the world in 4Q/16 compared to the same quarter the previous year, with a few exceptions, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly.
The Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) fell 1.2 percent to US$69.82/m3 in 4Q/16. The current GSPI is up 1.4 percent from a year ago but over 13 percent lower than in the same quarter two years ago.
Saw log prices in Europe have been trending downward the past three years from their record high in 2014. The European Sawlog Price Index (ESPI-€) was €83.16/m3 in 4Q/16, 8.2 percent below its peak in 1Q/14. Saw log prices in Sweden, Finland and Norway are currently at their lowest in over 10 years in their local currencies despite healthy lumber markets in the region.
Global Lumber Markets
Global softwood lumber trade increased 12 percent year-over-year in 2016 to reach a new record-high of 121 million cubic metres, according to estimates by WRI. Since the global financial crisis in 2009, international lumber trade climbed steadily with shipments the past seven years having increased as much as 66 percent.
Lumber exports from British Columbia are on pace to reach their highest levels since 2006 this year. Lumber prices in the US trended upward during most of 2016 but plateaued late in the year and in early 2017. Current prices are close to the highest levels in almost two years.
Although prices increased in both Finland and Sweden during the spring and summer of 2016, this upward trend was short-lived and prices fell during the fall and in 4Q/16, were back down to about the same level as in the 4Q/15.
Despite relatively pessimistic forecasts for wood demand early in 2016, China’s need for imported wood picked up during the summer and fall with import volumes in 4Q/16 rising about 20 percent compared to 4Q/15.