NCR wholesale prices of construction materials ease further in May

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By Marissa Mae M. Ramos, Researcher

THE rate of wholesale price growth of construction materials in Metro Manila eased in May, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.

The construction materials wholesale price index (CMWPI) in the National Capital Region (NCR) rose 1.3% year on year in May, against the 1.5% increase in April.

The May rise was the weakest since the 1.2% pace recorded in December.

The deceleration in the CMWPI’s growth was driven by the declines of 0.9% and 21.3% in plywood and fuels and lubricants, respectively.

Decelerations in price growth were also noted in the following commodity groups: lumber (3.3% in May from 4.4% in April); concrete products and cement (0.7% from 1.3%); plumbing fixtures and accessories/waterworks (0.8% from 1.2%); hardware (4.7% from 5%); painting works (0.7% from 0.9%); doors, jambs, and steel casements (0.4% from 0.6%); and sand and gravel (1.3% from 1.4%).

The year-on-year growth in other commodities remained unchanged from the previous month: tileworks (17.5%); PVC pipes (7.5%); glass and glass products (7.1%); galvanized iron sheets (2.8%); and reinforcing and structural sheets (0.3%).

Wholesale prices of machinery, equipment rental, and asphalt were flat in May.

Only electrical works posted gains in May at 1.1% from 0.7% in April.

“We know that the lockdown (one of the non-pharmaceutical interventions) employed by the government in NCR was mainly during both April and May. All major economic activities have to shut down and this has definitely fed into the slowdown in all construction activities as well,” UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion said in an e-mail.

“I did expect a slowdown, but as the economy reopens and restarts, it is expected that this indicator may return to pre-COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) levels. However, a second wave of infections will play into the potential recovery not just of prices, but construction activity in general,” he added.

Metro Manila has been under lockdown since mid-March with COVID-19 cases still rising.