Economy & Market
Cement firms hike prices
As cement wholesale prices in Delhi and Chandigarh almost reaching pre-monsoon levels, prices of the prime building material have been firming up across markets since the end of the monsoon. In last two months, since September, cement manufacturers have raised prices, with wholesale prices going up by anywhere between Rs 5 and Rs 40 per bag in the north, west and eastern regions. In line with improved demand and prices, profitability of cement companies is also expected to improve sequentially. However, margins will continue to remain under pressure on a year-on-year basis, according to reports on trends in the cement sector. The forecast comes in the wake of a modest 3.9 per cent increase in domestic production of cement during first half of FY14 primarily due to weak demand from end-user industries. Delays in environmental clearances for industrial and infrastructure projects and non-availability of sand in some states contributed to slow growth.