The CME is replacing its current random-length lumber futures contract with a more flexible, physical lumber futures contract. …Since lumber is a benchmark better suited for watching than trading or investing, the price differential between the new physical and old random-length lumber futures contracts could provide some clues about the future price direction for the industrial commodity. November random length lumber futures settled at the $494 per 1,000 board feet level on Friday, October 14. Meanwhile, the November physical lumber contract was nearly $100 per 1,000 board feet higher. Since the new contract reflects a smaller quantity and truckloads instead of railcars, it could better reflect actual lumber prices. …Lumber is a critical barometer that often moves higher or lower before other commodity markets. …Keep an eye on the lumber contracts over the coming weeks and months, as they could provide valuable clues about the path of least resistance of the overall commodities asset class and the US economy.