The producer price index (PPI) for finished goods dropped 0.3%, not seasonally adjusted (-0.7%, seasonally adjusted), in April and 0.6% over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Wednesday. The PPI for inputs to construction—a weighted average of the cost of all materials used in construction plus items consumed by contractors such as diesel fuel—slipped 0.1% for the month and inched up just 0.4% year-over-year.
Inputs for residential construction were flat for the month and increased 1.4% in price over the year, while inputs for nonresidential construction edged down 0.1% and 0.4%, respectively. Two building materials accounted for much of the difference: the PPI for lumber and plywood soared 2.5% and 20% and the index for gypsum products climbed 0.3% and 20%. In addition, the PPI for prepared asphalt and tar roofing and siding products rose 2.1% and 6.0%. In contrast, fuel and metals prices mostly declined: diesel fuel, -0.7% for the month and -6.0% year-over-year; aluminum mill shapes, -2.5% and -4.1%; copper and brass mill shapes, -2.7% and -6.0%; and steel mill products, 0.4% and -8.5%.
The PPI for paving materials and blocks fell 0.8% and 1.8% but the index for concrete products increased 0.9% and 3.1%. Indexes for most new nonresidential building construction and subcontractors’ work rose modestly. The PPIs for new schools was up 0.4% in April and 0.3% from a year ago; offices, 0.8% and 0.6%; industrial buildings, 0.6% and 1.4%; warehouses, 0.5% and 2.2%; and the index for new health care buildings was up 0.5% since March and since June 2012, when it was introduced. The PPI for new, repair and maintenance work on nonresidential buildings by electrical contractors was stable in April and up 0.1% over 12 months; concrete contractors, up 0.6% and 1.3%, respectively; plumbing contractors, 0.3% and 1.5%; and roofing contractors, 0.8% and 2.2%.