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Materials Trends

Prices are updated monthly by ENR's price reporters who call a single source for each product in 20 U.S. cities. The price represents that paid by a contractor for a specified large order. Monthly prices appear on the weekly rotating cycle.


Rebound in lumber prices tapers off despite increasing demand.

Construction Economics, Materials Trends, Lumber, DrywallRebound in lumber prices tapers off.

Housing construction through February of this year was up 15.2% over the same period of 2013 (see p. 33). Despite continued demand, last year's rebound in prices for products related to the residential construction market is tapering off. ENR's 20-city average prices for gypsum wallboard and plywood are both below April 2013's level. ENR's lumber prices are up between 0.2% and 1.6% for the year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' February producer price index for lumber is up just 1.2% for the year, while the PPI for plywood is down 2.8% for the year. Mill prices for lumber and panel prices are also down.


Pipe prices show little movement in April.

Construction Economics, Materials Trends, PipePipe prices show little movement in April.

Prices for pipe products showed little movement in April. The largest monthly increase was 0.4% for corrugated-steel pipe; however, prices for that product are still less than 1% above a year ago, according to ENR's 20-city average price. Prices for PVC water pipe declined about 0.2% in April and are between 1.8% and 3.3% below a year ago, according to ENR. In February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' producer price index for PVC was down 0.2% for the year. The PPI for concrete pipe fell 0.2% in February but remains 2.9% above 2013's level. ENR's price for concrete pipe is averaging 0.5% lower than 2013.


Cement prices start 2014 with a bang.

Construction Economics, Materials Trends, Cement, Concrete, AggregatesCement prices continue early 'spring' rebound.

Cement prices have kicked off their seasonal start-of-the-year price hikes with a bang. ENR's 20-city average price for portland cement jumped 1.7% in March, following February's 0.7% increase. In April, prices rose another 0.1%, pushing ENR's average cement price 2.9% above April 2013's level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' producer price index for cement surged 2.3% in January and then cooled off with a 0.7% decline in February (see chart, right). The combined result is a 3.4% annual price increase, which is down from the 4.6% annual increase posted in February 2013.


ENR Structural Steel, Rebar and Sheet-metal prices for March 2014.

Construction Economics, Materials Trends, SteelStructural steel and rebar price under pressure.

Structural steel, rebar and sheet-metal prices have all been under downward pressure this year. March's 0.5% monthly increase in ENR's 20-city average price for wide-flange structural steel was not enough to counter six months of declines; prices are 0.2% below a year ago. ENR's prices for reinforced-concrete bar are following a similar trend and also are 0.2% below March 2013's level. The producer price index for sheet-metal products in January fell 0.1% for the month, continuing a year-long decline, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The PPI for sheet metal is 1.2% below a year ago.

Materials Price Index

The Materials Cost Index is the materials component of ENR’s building and construction cost indexes. It tracks the weighted price movement of structural steel, portland cement and 2 X 4 lumber.

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