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Construction Materials Prices Fall Slightly in October

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Construction materials prices fell 0.2% in October and are down 0.3% year over year, according to the Nov. 21 Producer Price Index released by the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Nonresidential construction materials are down 0.5% for the month and are unchanged from the same time one year ago.

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“We continue to observe a lack of significant inflationary pressures both globally and nationally,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Despite ongoing expressions of concern regarding inflation due to stimulus measures being conducted by the U.S. Federal Reserve and other major central banks around the world, the data continue to reflect remarkable stability in construction materials prices.”

Overall, the nation’s wholesale goods prices expanded 1% in October and are up 2% year over year. “Inflation as measured by the Producer Price Index and other indices remains well within Federal Reserve tolerances, suggesting that the institution’s bond purchasing program is likely to remain fully intact for now,” said Basu.

“However, there is no guarantee that the stability of materials prices will persist,” Basu said. “The situation in Iran appears to be heating up and that could ultimately translate into commodity supply interruptions, boosting prices in the process. Moreover, U.S. economic growth is expected to accelerate next year, which, all things being equal, tends to push input costs higher.”

October price increases included:

• Fabricated structural-metal prices are up 0.4% and have risen 0.4% on a year-over-year basis.

• Softwood lumber prices climbed 1.2% and are 16.2% higher than a year ago.

• Natural gas prices expanded 0.2% and are 15.3% higher than a year ago.

• Concrete products edged up 0.1% and are up 2.9% on a yearly basis.

No price increases in October on:

• Nonferrous wire and cable prices fell 0.7% on a monthly basis and are down 3.4% from October 2012.

• Prices for plumbing fixtures and fittings were unchanged for the month and are up just 1.5% on a year-over-year basis.

• Prices for prepared asphalt, tar roofing and siding declined 1.6% for the month and are only 1% higher than a year ago.

• Iron and steel prices are unchanged on both a monthly and annual basis.

• Crude petroleum prices fell 5.2% for the month but are up 7.5% from October 2012.

• Crude energy prices fell 3.6% for the month but are 7.3% higher year over year.

• Steel-mill products prices remained unchanged and are 2.4% lower than one year ago.

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