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Cement prices ease decline 2% in fortnight

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Cement prices, which have continuously been firming up despite the Competition Commission of India's (CCI) hefty penalty and onset of monsoon, have now started easing a bit.

Over the last fortnight, all India average have declined by two per cent from Rs 310 to Rs 304 for a 50 kg bag. Thanks to heavy rains and floods in the northeast and states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh that prices of the building commodity have eased.

According to dealers, in Bihar alone prices have dipped from Rs 350 to Rs 310 while in Uttar Pradesh the prevailing prices are at Rs 280 against Rs 320 in July. The northern markets too have seen a fall of Rs 10-15 for a bag. In mid-July, prices had surged to as high as Rs 315, said the research head of a Mumbai-based brokerage who track cement and construction sectors. However, western and southern markets continue to see prices higher than Rs 300.

Experts had anticipated that following the CCI's verdict on cartelisation, cement prices will come under pressure. However, this did not come true. Rather, prices surged beyond Rs 300 after falling to Rs 290 at the all-India level.

The industry's capacity utilisation continues to be below 75 per cent which help companies control supply and maintain higher prices. But industry officials say price fluctuation is a function of demand and supply and they are meeting the consumption.

During the first quarter of the current financial year, industry's sales grew 9-10 per cent. Barring April, when sales dipped to seven per cent, May witnessed a robust growth of close to 13 per cent.

In June, as an impact of CCI's verdict, industry body did not disclose sales and production number but analysts estimated June to have fallen in line with the previous month's growth.

Experts say cement prices will continue to remain under pressure as rains intensify during the later months of the monsoon season.

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