A worker carries a sack of cement under a conveyor in a warehouse in Ferozabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photographer: Udit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg)

BQSurvey: Cement Prices Rise Despite Partial Rollback In South And North

Cement prices rose for the third straight month in March but companies had to roll back part of the hike in the northern and southern regions because of muted demand, according to a BloombergQuint dealer survey.

All-India prices rose by Rs 7 for a 50-kilogram bag to Rs 342, BloombergQuint’s interaction with 17 dealers across five regions showed. That came despite weak infrastructure activity due to Holi and year-end volume pressures that usually weigh on the pricing power, aided by net increases in south, west and central India.

Partial Rollback In South India

The hike would have been higher had it not been for a sharp rollback seen in the southern region. Cement makers hiked prices by Rs 50 per bag in early March but half of it was withdrawn by the middle of the month due to lack of demand from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh ahead of the general election, said dealers from Kozhikode and Bengaluru.

The companies in the southern region raised prices for the second month in a row. Prices in Karnataka, however, held steady.

Sharp Reversal Of Hike In North

Dealers across Delhi, Ghaziabad and Lucknow suggested that prices were rolled back by Rs 7 per bag due to muted demand after a hike of Rs 10 per bag at the start of month. Dealers cited year-end volume pressures and extended holidays taken by construction workers on account of Holi as the reasons for the slump in demand. Nevertheless, prices in some areas of the region like Jaipur and Chandigarh held steady, the survey showed.

Muted Trend In East & Central Region

Cement prices remained unchanged for yet another month in the eastern region. A Kolkata-based distributor blamed excess supply from Telangana for the weakening pricing power in the eastern region.

Dealers in central India, however, indicated stable pricing power for the region with the potential Rs 10 price cut due to year-end volume pressure UltraTech Cement Ltd.

Second Straight Price Hike In West

Prices in the western region were hiked for the second consecutive month. Cement makers increased prices by Rs 5 per bag across Bhopal, Mumbai and Pune. A dealer from Mumbai, however, suggested that there is no room for further hikes ahead of the general election due to subdued demand from the real estate sector.