Construction material prices decrease, steel continues to rise

From September to October, the producer price index for construction materials inched down 0.1 percent, which could mean some minor relief for the construction industry. Prices for steel and steel products, however, continue rise.

According to a report released by the Federal Reserve Nov. 17, prices for materials, including wood and gypsum products, could decrease slightly over the next few months. In September, prices increased 0.7 percent.

The most significant price reduction in the index was for softwood lumber, which dropped 9.4 percent in October, compared to a 0.1 percent decrease in September. Prices for materials such as plywood, building paper and board, asphalt felts and coatings, wiring devices and gypsum products all decreased.

The index for fabricated structural metal products, architectural coatings and steel mill products increased more in October than in September. During the past year, the producer price index for fabricated structural metal products rose 17 percent, and is expected to climb further in upcoming months. Indexes for steel mill products are up 48 percent from one year ago, and prices for iron and steel scrap are up 91 percent from October 2003.