The lumber market is on the brink of all-time highs amid a renovation revival spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. futures touched US$649.40 per 1,000 board feet on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday. On an intraday basis, that’s the highest since at least 1986, when Bloomberg records begin. Prices have more than doubled since April amid tightening supply, outpacing returns from havens such as gold and silver.

“Inventories are still extremely low,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Quinn, noting prices are poised to climb higher.

The pandemic was initially expected to hurt lumber demand as surging employment curbed appetite for housing and building materials. Instead, shut-in Americans sought out materials to fix up their homes and build decks and fences just as mills aggressively curbed output, resulting in a supply squeeze.

Producers such as Interfor Corp. expect the market to remain strong as repair and renovation demand continues to be robust and U.S. housing starts recover from the initial impacts of the pandemic.

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