A worker stands on scaffolding as he trowells cement at a construction site. (Photographer: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg)

BQSurvey: Cement Prices Jump The Most In Over A Year

Cement prices rose for the fourth consecutive month in April even as companies in the southern region cut prices due to excessive supply, according to a BloombergQuint dealer survey.

All-India prices rose by Rs 19 for a 50-kilogram bag to Rs 361, the highest jump in at least over a year, BloombergQuint’s interaction with 13 dealers across five regions showed. The prices were mainly driven by demand seen in central and north India.

The uptrend is expected to continue for the month of May as most contractors complete their projects ahead of the monsoon, cement industry expert Sanjay Ladiwala said.

He, however, expects the trend to reverse with the onset of the monsoon.

Nomura expects cement prices to be impacted in the near term due to the general election, but estimated good demand outlook driven by affordable housing and infrastructure.

Central Region Resumes Uptrend

Cement prices in the central region rose 10.3 percent, or Rs 35, to Rs 375 per 50-kg bag after remaining unchanged in March. The region, however, has seen two price hikes since 2019. The price hike was mainly done in Indore, Bhopal and Agra.

Prices Perk Up In North

The northern region also witnessed a sharp hike of Rs 31 per bag in April after a small hike seen in the month of March. Prices in the north have remained subdued from the start of the year.

Dealers in the region suggest that chances of any further hike would be difficult after the election due to slowdown in infrastructure activities.

Average cement price in the north stood at Rs 340 per bag after prices were hiked in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ludhiana and Chandigarh markets.

East & West Too Go Northwards

In the western region, prices went up by Rs 20 per bag to Rs 339. Hike in the west was mainly driven by the demand in Gujarat and Mumbai markets.

The eastern region saw its first hike in five months as cement prices rose by Rs 19 per bag to Rs 350.

Dealers in the east suggested a potential hike of Rs 20 by ACC Ltd. in the month of May.

A report from Deutsche Bank, however, suggests that any further price hike in the east would be difficult going forward as incumbent players try to protect market-share erosion, with significant capacity ramp-up expected from Ramco Cements Ltd., Shree Cement Ltd., Dalmia Bharat, Star Cement Ltd., etc.

South Does It Differently

The quantum of hike across India would have been higher had it not been for the price cut seen in south.

While prices fell in the southern region, they came down after two large hikes seen in previous months. Dealers in the region effectively cut prices to the tune of Rs 25 per bag for the month of April after implementing a hike of Rs 15 at the start of the month.

Prices were slashed due to excessive supply from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu which weighed on the pricing power of the entire region. Cement prices in the south are expected to remain under pressure during the monsoon.