CME lumber reaches new highs on rising cash prices

CHICAGO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Lumber futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange closed higher on Friday and posted six-week highs in nearbys and some contract highs in back months amid further buying prompted by the strong tone to cash.

* Note: U.S. futures markets will be closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

* Spreading of long March/short May added to the advance in March, with a strong expiration in the January contract adding to overall strength.

* March lumber 2LBH0 closed up $6.00 at $253.00, and May 2LBK0 was up $2.60 at $272.50. March posted a six-week high and May set a contract high.

* January contract expired at noon CST (1800 GMT) at $229.90, up $3.90 on the day after setting a six-week high.

* Futures had closed sharply higher to limit up on Thursday amid talk of rising cash prices, due mainly to the industry filling in reduced inventories.

* Random Lengths quoted cash spruce at $236 per tbf, up $16 from midweek and up $18 from last week. Private sources put cash in the $236 to $240 area.

* “Many producers and secondaries reported their best week of trading in months, as buyers across the distribution pipeline addressed near-term needs. The surge of orders developed despite many regions just starting to get back to normal after the recent wintry spell over much of the U.S.,” Random Lengths said in its weekly report.

* “Tight supplies and wide buyer participation led to a number of double-digit price gains. The Random Lengths Framing Lumber Composite jumped $11 to its highest level since September 2008,” it said.

* “Western S-P-F set the tone for the rally. Producers pushed order files out several weeks, with some items quoted late in the week for shipment in early February,” the reporting agency added. (Reporting by Jerry Bieszk; Editing by Walter Bagley)