Allegations against Chinese cabinet exporters
The American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance, a group
representing US makers of kitchen cabinets and other
hardwood assembled pieces, has filed a petition with the
US Commerce Department and US International Trade
Commission alleging Chinese producers receive illegal
subsidies and unfairly dumped products in the US.
The group contends that the alleged subsidies and
dumping depress prices for domestic makers, according to
a lawyer for the group. The petitioners, who include
Wellborn Cabinet Inc., American Woodmark Corp. and
Master WoodCraft Cabinetry allege US$2 billion to US$4
billion in harm to the US industry.
The scope of the petition includes wooden cabinets,
vanities, and wooden components made in China,
assembled or unassembled.
US investigating possibility of illegal okoum¨¦ imports
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has
confirmed that it is investigating potential illegal imports
of Okoum¨¦ veneer from Gabon and the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
The wood in question is used by Roseburg Forest Products
in its Real Wood Siding products. In a statement,
Roseburg indicated that it is "cooperating with authorities
in the investigation."
Housing starts rebound in January
US homebuilding increased more than expected in January
as construction of single-family housing rebounded after
four straight monthly declines.
Housing starts jumped 18.6% to a seasonally adjusted
annual rate of 1.23 million units in January. Data for
December was revised down to show starts declining to a
rate of 1.037 million units instead of the previously
reported pace of 1.078 million units.
Building permits rose 1.4% to a rate of 1.345 million units
in January, driven by an increase in permits for the volatile
multi-family housing segment. Permits to build singlefamily
homes fell 2.1% in January to a pace of 812,000
units, the lowest level since August 2017, suggesting
weakness in single-family homebuilding in the months
However, existing-home sales experienced a minor drop
for the third consecutive month in January, according to
the National Association of Realtors.
Total existing-home sales decreased 1.2% from December
to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million in
January. Sales are now down 8.5% from a year ago (5.40
million in January 2018). January existing-home sales
increased in the Northeast by 2.9%, but still trail behind
January 2018 sales by 1.4%.
Existing home sales dipped 2.9% in the West and were off
13.8% from a year ago. Sales fell in January by 2.5%
Midwest and by 1% in the South.
Furniture orders rose 6% in 2018
New furniture orders in December were up 7% over
December 2017, according to the latest Smith Leonard
survey of manufacturers and distributors. That said
though, only 45% of the participants surveyed reported
increased orders in December compared to December a
December¡¯s increase in orders was the 12th straight month
of positive comparison to the previous year. This led to an
increase of 6% in new orders for the year, up from a 4%
increase reported last year.
Shipments were basically even with December 2017.
Some 63% of the participants reported increased orders for
the year. For all of 2018, shipments were up 3% over the
2017 year. For the year, 66% of the participants reported
Consumer Confidence at two-year low
February US consumer sentiment unexpectedly came in
lower than forecast and remains near the prior month¡¯s
two-year low, signaling that Americans haven¡¯t quite
shaken off the government shutdown and trade war.
The University of Michigan¡¯s final February Sentiment
Index was 93.8, below the preliminary reading of 95.5 and
missing the 95.9 median forecast in Bloomberg¡¯s survey
of economists. The measure of current conditions
weakened from the earlier reading to the lowest since
November 2016 while expectations were lower than in the
Interest rates unchanged, FED signals no increases
The US Federal Reserve decided to hold interest rates
steady and indicated that no more hikes will be coming
The bank¡¯s policy making Federal Open Market
Committee (FOMC) took a sharp dovish turn from policy
projections just three months earlier. Committee members
had estimated in December that two rate hikes would be
appropriate in 2019 after four increases in 2018.
There now appears no likelihood of a further rise unless
conditions change significantly. In its post-meeting
statement, the FOMC indicated it would remain ¡°patient¡±
before adopting any further increases.