Softwood lumber prices in the U.S. soared to near-record highs Wednesday, as Canadian producers passed on higher export duties charged by the U.S. government straight on to American consumers. Prices for KD Western S-P-F, a common benchmark for softwood lumber exported into the U.S., was trading above US$494, near its all-time high, that appear to neutralize any potential impact of increased duties placed on Canadian exporters. Analysts say tightening markets are a key shift compared to the last time Canada and the U.S. were in a prolonged dispute over softwood lumber trade, which endured from 2001 to 2006. …High prices for lumber are not widely expected to last. Mason expects prices to level off closer to the US$400 range as the U.S. increases lumber imports from other countries and builders look for alternative materials and sources to softwood lumber.