Nonresidential construction input prices rose 0.4 percent last month and were down 4.9 percent on a yearly basis, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) analysis of the latest producer price index release.

Meanwhile, the largest monthly gain in petroleum prices in more than three years caused construction materials prices to expand 0.4 percent in February, ending a six-month streak when prices failed to rise. On a year-over-year basis, construction input prices fell 3.9 percent.

“While conventional wisdom suggests that oil and natural gas prices will eventually rise, the adjustment period could be a lengthy one and although crude petroleum prices were up 12.3 percent on a monthly basis, this is likely a function of an abnormally cold February,” says ABC chief economist Anirban Basu. “This rise is the first monthly gain since April 2014 and the eighth consecutive month in which petroleum prices were down on a year-over-year basis.

“For now, inventories of fuel remain elevated and most believe that the U.S. dollar’s upward movement is not at an end,” adds Basu. “This, in addition to the quantitative easing that has begun in Europe and the potential for increasing interest rates in America, means that there is likely to be greater demand for U.S. fixed income assets, which will serve to further strengthen the U.S. dollar and put downward pressure on certain key construction input prices.”

Seven of the 11 key construction inputs did not expand for the month, including prices for fabricated structural metal, which remained flat and have expanded 1 percent on a year-over-year basis.

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