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Mixed price changes for building materials in April

Inputs to residential construction, goods less food and energy, increased for the sixth consecutive month, according to the most recent producer price index (PPI) report published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The index for inputs to residential construction, goods less food and energy, represents building materials used in residential construction.

The non-seasonally adjusted index increased 0.14% in April after increasing a revised 0.50% in March and 0.47% in February. The index is up 2.77% from April 2023, the largest yearly increase since 2.80% in February of 2023. The average yearly change, over all 12 months, was 2.50% in 2020, 14.62% in 2021, 15.18% in 2022, and 1.34% in 2023. Over the first four months of 2024, the average change was 2.32%.

The seasonally adjusted PPI for final demand increased 2.18% from last year, the largest yearly increase since April 2023 (2.30%). Over the month, the final demand index rose 0.56%. From the BLS, “Nearly three-quarters of the April advance in final demand prices is attributable to a 0.55% increase in the index for final demand services. Prices for final demand goods moved up 0.44%”.

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The seasonally adjusted PPI for softwood lumber increased 6.20% in April. This was the largest month-over-month increase since January of 2022 when the index shot up 21.56% over the month. From April of 2023, the index was 4.31% lower.

The non-seasonally adjusted PPI for gypsum building materials fell 0.74% in April.  Despite falling over the month, prices for gypsum building materials were 1.00% higher than April of last year.

The seasonally adjusted PPI for ready-mix concrete fell for the first time in four months, down 0.27% in April. Prices for ready-mix concrete have continued to increase since 2021, as this was only the fourth price decline since January 2021. Year-over-year, ready-mix concrete prices were 8.04% higher.

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The non-seasonally adjusted PPI for steel mill products fell for the second straight month, down 2.67% for April after an 8.10% decline in March. Prices for steel mill products are 9.79% lower than last year.

The non-seasonally adjusted special commodity grouping PPI for copper rose 3.46% in April. Over the year, the index was up 4.46%. Copper futures pricing, not shown here, was trading near $4.90 per pound as of today, its highest level since early 2022 at $5.00 per pound.

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