WHOLESALE prices of construction materials in Metro Manila rose in February, though the rate of growth slowed compared with a month earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

Retail prices also rose, accelerating from January.

The construction materials wholesale price index (CMWPI) for the National Capital region (NCR) rose 1.5% year-on-year in February, compared to 1.8% in January.

The construction materials retail price index (CMRPI) in the NCR rose 1.1% in February, after coming in at 0.7% in January.

Price indices represent the weighted cost of a basket of goods relative to a base period.

The CMWPI took in slower rates of price increases in the prices of sand and gravel (2.5% from 3.9% in January); electrical works (2% from 3.2%); plumbing fixtures and accessories/waterworks (1.9% from 4.3%); and concrete products and cement (0.6% from 0.7%).

Price declines were noted in fuels and lubricants (-0.7% from 9.1%); doors, jambs and steel casements (-0.7% from -0.9%); and plywood (-0.1% from 0%).

Prices rose 7.5% for PVC pipes, unchanged from the rate recorded in the previous month. Steady price changes were also seen in glass and glass products (7.1%), painting works (1.1%), asphalt (0%), and machinery and equipment rental (0%).

Prices rose for hardware (5.3% from 4.9%), lumber (3.8% from 3.4%), G.I. sheets (4% from 3.9%), reinforcing and structural steel (0.2% from 0%), and tileworks (17.5% from 16.1%).

The CMRPI incorporated faster price growth in painting materials and related compounds (1.7% from 1% in January); carpentry materials (1% from 0.6%); miscellaneous construction materials (0.8% from -0.1%); electrical materials (0.6% from 0.5%); and masonry materials (0.5% from 0.2%).

The rate of retail price growth in tinsmithry and plumbing materials was unchanged at 1.3%, and 0.9%, respectively.

“It could be that demand for wholesale construction materials eased as the initial impact of COVID-19 spread. Bulk selling and its easing may be an early indication of a dampening of overall demand,” UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion said in an e-mail.

In a phone interview, Federation of Philippine Industries Chairman Jesus L. Arranza said the costs of these construction materials are “expected to be higher” as there will be less production of such goods due to the disruptions to most construction projects with the implementation of an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

UnionBank’s Mr. Asuncion added: “Demand, overall, may soften as movement of people and goods in Luzon are hampered by the enhanced community quarantine. Both wholesale and retail may experience a slowdown.” — Carmina Angelica V. Olano