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Construction material costs still sliding

Construction materials prices continued to move downward in July falling 0.6 percent. Overall, construction materials prices are 8.6 percent lower than one year ago.

Prices for fabricated structural metal products slipped for the 10th straight month, down 1 percent for July and 6.9 percent lower from last July. Nonferrous wire and cable producer prices decreased by 0.8 percent in July and are down 16.9 percent year-over-year.

Producer prices for prepared asphalt and tar roofing and siding products decreased 1.6 percent from last month but are still up 23.5 percent from July 2008.

Softwood lumber prices jumped 6.7 percent in July but are down 10.1 percent on a year-over-year basis. Plumbing fixtures and fittings prices remain unchanged on a monthly basis and are up just 0.5 percent from a year ago.

Crude energy prices decreased 6.2 percent last month, led by a 15.9 percent decrease in crude petroleum prices. Finished energy goods prices fell 2.4 percent in July as gasoline prices dropped 10.2 percent for the month. Overall, wholesale prices inched downward 0.9 percent in July following two consecutive months of increases.

“To even the most seasoned economist, the producer price index data for July are a source of major perplexity. A variety of factors suggest that producer prices should now be stabilizing worldwide, but that is just not the case,” said Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist Anirban Basu. “Despite growth in Asia, Europe, and North America, and the implementation of major stimulus packages underway in various parts of the world, including most notably in China and the U.S., construction materials prices continue to trend downward.

“The U.S. recession is now either over or ending, and growing concern regarding future inflation will likely contribute to stable or rising producer prices.”

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