The decline in wholesale prices of construction materials in Metro Manila eased to a four-month low in May, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Friday. 

The construction materials wholesale price index (CMWPI) in the National Capital Region (NCR) fell 2% year on year in May from a contraction of 2.4% in April, according to preliminary data. 

The PSA said price growth eased in bulk prices of reinforcing and structural steel (1.4% in May from 3.3% in April) and PVC pipes (1% from 2.6%). 

Price movements in plumbing fixtures and accessories/waterworks remained negative at minus 1.8% in May from minus 2.2% in April. 

Glass and glass products, asphalt, and machinery and equipment rental wholesale prices were unchanged in May. 

Other building commodities posted higher rates of price growth led by fuels and lubricants (to 25.3% in May from 22.3% in April, electrical works (3.8% from 2.5%), and painting works (1.6% from 0.9%). 

Security Bank Corp. Chief Economist Robert Dan J. Roces attributed the May reading to lower inflation and a steady supply of materials. 

“The month-on-month for all items was actually flat, with construction activities proceeding despite the modified community quarantine as contractors resumed projects that were ,” he said in an e-mail. 

Headline inflation steadied for a third consecutive month in May at 4.5% as growth in food costs eased. 

Metro Manila and surrounding provinces — known as NCR Plus — went under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the first half of April due to rising coronavirus case counts. The quarantine setting was later lowered to modified ECQ until May 14, which led to the resumption of construction all over the NCR Plus area. 

Mr. Roces expects bulk prices of construction materials in Metro Manila to steady or rise slightly in the coming months. — Bernadette Therese M. Gadon