NCR wholesale building materials price growth slows further in April

PRICE GROWTH of bulk construction materials in the National Capital Region (NCR) eased further in April, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Thursday.

Citing preliminary data, the PSA said growth in the April construction materials wholesale price index (CMWPI) slowed to 0.7% from 0.8% in March, significantly lower than the 7.4% posted a year earlier.

At constant 2018 prices, this was the weakest CMWPI reading in more than four years, or since the 0.7% posted in December 2019.

Year to date, CMWPI growth averaged 1%, against the 8.2% seen in the first four months of 2023.

“The GDP (gross domestic product) report gives us insight into the actual spending on construction. Although positive, construction was relatively muted and largely driven by public construction,” Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa, senior economist at ING Bank N.V. Manila, said in an e-mail.

According to the PSA, the economy grew 5.7% in the first quarter of 2024, against the 6.4% rate posted a year earlier.

However, this expansion topped the 5.5% in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Contributing 5.8% to the economy, construction grew 7% in the first quarter. This was slower than the year-earlier construction growth of 11% as well as the 8.4% posted in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Mr. Mapa added that the continued soft demand for materials was behind the slowdown in CMWPI growth in April.

Across the 19 commodity groups, the sub-index of plumbing fixtures and accessories/waterworks rose 0.2% against 3.7% in March. The slowdown here accounted for most to the deceleration in the April CMWPI, the PSA said.

Posting slower growth as well were sand and gravel (1.2% from 1.3%); hardware (3.0% from 3.4%); lumber (0.5% from 0.6%); metal products (0.7% from 0.8%); and painting works (1.9% from 2.3%).

Only five commodity groups posted higher growth in April. Fuels and lubricants picked up to 10.9% from 8.7%, followed by electrical works (2.6% from 1.8%); plywood (1.5% from 1.3%); PVC pipes (0.9% from 0.8%); and concrete products (0.6% from 0.5%). — Andrea C. Abestano