WHOLESALE PRICES of construction materials in Metro Manila grew at a faster pace in December, while retail price growth slowed, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The PSA said Wednesday that the construction materials wholesale price index (CMWPI) rose 1% year on year in December from a rise of 0.8% in November.

Growth in the construction materials retail price index slowed to 1.4% in December from 1.7% the previous month.

The acceleration in CMWPI growth was driven by sand and gravel (2.9% from 0.9%), galvanized iron sheets (1.2% from 0.9%), electrical works (1.6% from 1.4%), and PVC pipes (4.8% from 4.4%).

Price growth eased in concrete products and cement (1% from 1.1%) and hardware (2.6% from 3.4%).

Year-on-year declines were observed in plywood (-0.1%), reinforcing and structural steel (-0.8%), plumbing fixtures and accessories/waterworks (-1.4%), and fuel and lubricants (-8.1%).

Wholesale price movements in the following construction materials were unchanged during the month: lumber (3.7%); tileworks (14.4%); glass and glass products (7.1%); doors, jambs, and steel casements (0.2%); painting works (0.7%); asphalt (0%); and machinery and equipment rental (0%).

At the retail level, slower price increases were noted in masonry materials (1% from 1.4% in November), painting materials and related compounds (1.5% from 1.8%), tinsmithry materials (2.8% from 2.9%), and miscellaneous construction materials (1% from 1.6%).

Only plumbing materials saw an acceleration in price growth of 0.7% from 0.6% previously.

Price growth in carpentry and electrical materials was unchanged at 1.4% and 0.8%, respectively.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort attributed the acceleration in wholesale prices to the seasonal pickup in business and consumer spending, which caused increased demand.

“However, the softer economic conditions largely due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, as well as some slowdown in infrastructure spending as delayed by restrictions on public transportation and in some industries, and may have still led to the deceleration in the retail prices in construction materials,” Mr. Ricafort said in a mobile message.

The economist expects increased government spending for infrastructure to be one of the “offsetting positive factors” that could lead to a pickup in the demand for construction materials, adding that the preparations for next year’s national elections may require “expeditious completion of various government projects.”

“Near-record low interest rates would also help stimulate loan demand for investments, construction activities, and financing to purchase real estate by businesses, individuals, and households,” Mr. Ricafort said. — B.A.D. Añago