THE growth in retail prices of construction materials in the National Capital Region (NCR) picked up in May, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Thursday.

The PSA reported that the NCR construction materials retail price index (CMRPI), which measures changes in the average retail prices of construction materials in the region, rose 1% year on year in May, picking up from 0.8% in April.

The May result was driven by faster growth in carpentry materials (1% from 0.9% in April), and tinsmithry materials (1.4% from 1%).

The year-on-year growth in other commodities remained unchanged when compared with the previous month: painting materials and related compounds (1.5%) electrical materials (0.7%), miscellaneous construction materials (0.5%), and plumbing materials (0.4%).

Only the growth in retail prices of masonry materials showed a slowdown at 0.6% from 0.7% previously.

“The slight growth can be traced to the slight increase in construction activity after the quarantine conditions were eased. I see it as a lukewarm response to the restoration of more economic and business activities,” said University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) School of Economics Senior Economist Cid L. Terosa in an e-mail.

ING Bank N.V. Manila Senior Economist Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa added: “Supply conditions may have also forced prices to tiptoe higher with imports slowing due to logistics constraints linked to community quarantine measures,” he said in an e-mail.

The government started moving to more permissive forms of lockdown in Metro Manila on May 16 after more than two months of strict quarantine. The “modified” lockdown was eased further to a “general” lockdown on June 1 and is expected to be lifted by the end of the month.

“Demand may still be quite limited to government projects and prices will be determined in large part by the supply of materials likely imported from abroad. If logistics chains are restored, we could see CMRPI cool a bit next month,” ING’s Mr. Mapa said.

UA&P’s Mr. Terosa added: “I expect to see a moderate increase in the months to come.” — Lourdes O. Pilar