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Construction material costs rise

WASHINGTON — After eight months of decline, prices of construction materials increased 0.5 percent in May 2009. However, prices are still down by 5.3 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Construction materials trending higher include fabricated ferrous wire, up 0.5 percent, marking the first increase since October of last year. On a year-over-year basis, prices are up 0.1 percent. Prices for prepared asphalt and tar roofing are 1.3 percent higher from April, and up 40.4 percent from a year ago. Plumbing fixtures and fittings prices were unchanged on a monthly basis and are up 0.6 percent from May 2008.

In contrast, prices for fabricated structural metal products continue to decrease, down 0.7 percent from April and down 2 percent on a year-over-year basis. Softwood lumber prices dropped 2.1 percent from April and are down 18.4 percent on year-over-year basis.

Crude energy prices increased 5.3 percent in May as crude petroleum price spiked up 18.6 percent. Overall, finished goods prices were up 0.2 percent from April but are still down 4.7 percent from May 2008.

“The monthly increase in construction materials prices was not entirely unexpected, but it is still cause for concern,” said Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist Anirban Basu. “The U.S. construction economy remains quite soft in many key segments, including both the office and commercial categories. For these construction segments to rebound there must be a combination of positive factors including well-behaved interest rates, reasonably priced construction materials and spreading economic momentum and prosperity.”

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