Timber ETFs Grow on Recovering Lumber Demand

The timber industry and related exchange traded funds are gaining momentum as lumber futures climbed since the start of April on signs that the housing construction season may be recovered, along with greater demand from home improvement stores.

Over the past month, the iShares Global Timber & Forestry ETF (NYSEArca: WOOD) increased 9.2% and Invesco MSCI Global Timber ETF (CUT) advanced 9.5%.

Meanwhile, lumber futures were trading around $360.1 per 1,000 board feet or up 45% since its April 1 and around 9% higher over the past year.

Supporting the lumber markets, mills from northwest Canada’s rainforests to the Deep South have quickly cut back on production in face of plummeting wood prices in February and March as many warned that the home building season would be cut short, the Wall Street Journal reports. Mill owners and analysts calculated that daily North American lumber production last month were reduced by as much as a third.

While some mills have turned back on to meet the rising demand from builders and retailers, about 20% of normal production remains offline, according to executives at Interfor Corp., North America’s fourth-largest lumber producer.

“With that kind of volume taken out of the market, prices will react,” Shawn Church, editor of Random Lengths, a wood price-reporting company, told the WSJ.

The sudden disruption in supply could continue to support the market, especially with demand picking up. Random Lengths’ recently reported on “tight supplies in all species,” with mills booking orders into the second half of June and “scorching home center demand” for southern yellow pine for fencing and decks.

“Demand has been the speed boat: It is much more agile and it has turned quickly,” Greg Kuta, president of lumber broker Westline Capital Strategies, told the WSJ. “Supply is the oil tanker meandering slowly through the water. It’s turning, but it’s difficult.”

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