Lumber prices for future January delivery ended at twice the price for a prompt delivery in mid-November.
According to Fox Business, lumber prices have shot up again in a rise reminiscent of a year ago, when high-climbing wood prices warned of the hinky supply lines and broad inflation to come. Futures for January delivery ended Friday at $1,089.10 per thousand board feet, twice the price for a prompt delivery in mid-November.
Cash prices are way up as well. Pricing service Random Lengths said that its framing composite index, which tracks on-the-spot sales, has jumped 65% since October, to $915. A $129 gain this week was the biggest on record, eclipsing a $124 jump in May, when lumber prices crested at all-time highs.
Though lumber is traded in esoteric markets, two-by-fours became a proxy in the debate over whether inflation would fade with distance from the lockdown. In June, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell pointed to lumber prices plunging from a shocking peak as evidence that surging costs would subside. On Wednesday, he said the central bank would hasten the wind down of its bond-buying program, setting the stage for a series of interest-rate hikes meant to tame inflation.
Lumber prices have a way to go before they threaten the records set in spring, when futures hit $1,711.20. Still, lumber prices with a comma were unimaginable before the lockdown, when mills were caught off guard by do-it-yourself and home-building booms and all the decks needed to facilitate outdoor dining. Analysts and traders say conditions are ripe for prices to keep climbing through winter, as they often do ahead of the spring building season.