Lumber prices fall as US mortgage rates top 6% for the first time in 14 years

Lumber prices fall as US mortgage rates top 6% for the first time in 14 years
A discounted batch of planks is seen as people shop for lumber at a Home Depot store in Alhambra, California on May 4, 2022.FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
  • Lumber prices fell 6% Wednesday as US mortgage rates topped 6% for the first time in 14 years.
  • Prices rose earlier in the week amid fears that a possible rail strike could disrupt supplies.

Lumber prices fell Wednesday as US mortgage rates hit the highest level in 14 years, pulling back from an earlier rally amid fears of a possible rail strike.

Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed that the rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage jumped to 6.01% for the week ending September 9, up 7 basis points from a week ago.

The latest rate is the highest for a fixed mortgage since 2008, when the US was contending with the Great Recession after the housing bubble popped.

Lumber prices dropped 6% to $532.30 per thousand board feet. So far this year, prices have lost more than 50% and remain well off its all-time high of over $1,700 per thousand board feet reached in May 2021.

The key building material has been under pressure as the housing market slows while an inflation-fighting Federal Reserve continues an aggressive campaign of rate hikes.


And the Fed is expected to raise benchmark interest rates a further 75 basis points at the central bank's policy meeting next week. The latest inflation report showed that price pressures only cooled modestly in August and are still too high for a pivot toward a more dovish stance.

Meanwhile, the potential for a strike by railroad workers could add further volatility to the price of lumber and other commodities that rely on freight trains.

Two rail worker union representing over 100,000 conductors and engineers for freight trains remain at odds with management over new contracts. Without an agreement, the US could see the first major railroad union strike in 30 years. Lumber is primarily transported throughout the US by rail.