The frenzied climb in lumber prices is generating superlative profits for sawmill owners. Home buyers, renters and do-it-yourselfers are footing the bill.
Wood prices pushed further into record territory last week, a sign that Weyerhaeuser Co. , Canfor Corp. and other sawmill owners are in line for even fatter profits than the record earnings they have been reporting for the first three months of 2021.
These firms have emerged as the biggest beneficiaries of the wood boom. They are feasting on a glut of cheap pine trees in the U.S. South while their finished products like lumber and plywood are flying off hardware-store shelves and being bid up by home builders.
Lumber futures for May delivery ended Friday at $1,500.50 per thousand board feet, an all-time high and roughly four times the typical price this time of year. Futures have risen by the daily maximum allowed by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange during nine of the last 17 trading sessions.
On-the-spot prices for two-by-fours and other wood products have also jumped to fresh highs, according to pricing service Random Lengths. Traders worried about being left empty-handed capitulated, and the firm’s framing lumber composite price made its highest ever weekly gain, to a record $1,290.