Last few months have seen the cement sector passing through an unusual phase where price and demand have shown divergent trend. While demand has not shown any significant growth during April and May months, that has not stopped the cement manufacturers from hiking the price from time to time and holding it at the elevated level.
Demand for cement in April and May was affected by the general elections and remained below expectations. Demand was also adversely affected by rising temperatures and water & labour shortage in select states.
Our dealers’ survey suggested that though price has seen a trend reversal at certain pockets, in general it remained at the elevated level during May. Price in North India was at all time high while in Eastern UP it was stagnant. After seeing a price rise of Rs 30 per bag in April, price went up by Rs 10-15 in May also. On the other hand, in eastern region price went up by as much as Rs 10-25 per bag in early May only to be rolled back during the later part of the month. Month ended almost on a flattish note for Eastern region. However, West Bengal was an exception where prices went up by Rs 10 per bag during May. In the Western region price trend was firm and during May it went up by Rs 30 per bag in certain pockets of Gujarat. It should be remembered that in April too price had gone up almost by same margin. In Maharashtra price ruled firm in general except in certain pockets where it had corrected by Rs 20 per bag. In Mumbai, price went up by Rs 15 per bag during the month. In Southern market price in general has softened except in Hyderabad where it went up by Rs 20 per bag. In Chennai cement demand was affected by scarcity of sand.
As the arrival of Monsoon is expected to be delayed by few days this year, June may see the construction activities in full swing which may help the sector to regain the lost ground partially in terms of demand. Price is expected to be range bound with Southern states showing signs of weakness.