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Lumber Demand To Drop In U.S.

Demand for U.S. lumber is expected to drop next year — as home construction lessens and people spend less on remodeling and repair.

The forecast comes from the Western Wood Products Association, which represents lumber manufacturers.

The Portland-based trade group predicts that lumber consumption will total 55.7 billion board feet in 2004. That´s a drop of 1.8 percent from this year´s record volume.

Higher interest rates are expected to slow home construction somewhat, reducing new house building to 1.69 million units. That will reduce the lumber used by 3.6 percent — to 22.4 billion feet.

Repair and remodeling usage is expected to drop by 3.3 percent. But, the group says, next year´s volume is expected to be the third highest on record.