Construction input prices reached a plateau in October, showing a continued trend of little fluctuation over the past few months. The long-run data was less flattering, however, as prices decreased more than 2% year-over-year (YOY). With the main focus on nonresidential construction, input prices decreased monthly and annually by 0.1% and 2%, respectively.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, natural gas, crude petroleum and unprocessed energy materials were at the forefront of the YOY decline, all of which fell more than 25%. Of those three, natural gas was the only material to improve month-over-month (MoM). Plumbing fixtures and fittings and concrete products gained the most traction YOY, the latter leveling over MoM.
"New month, same story on materials prices," Associated Builders and Contractors' (ABC) Chief Economist Anirban Basu said on Nov. 14. "While the decline in crude petroleum prices in October may have been caused by a spike in oil prices in September due to an assault on Saudi facilities, price weakness was apparent in several other materials categories as well. Many categories experienced effectively no change in price whatsoever on a monthly basis, including key materials such as softwood lumber, concrete, plumbing fixtures and the segment that includes prepared asphalt."
Basu said material prices will continue to "seesaw" in the coming future, but there is evidence of a "firming economy."
—Andrew Michaels, editorial associate