All-India average cement prices remained broadly resilient which is a little strange considering the fact that demand during September continued to be affected by liquidity crisis and prolonged Monsoon which in some parts of the country played havoc. On month on month basis, cement price remained broadly flat due to discipline maintained by the manufacturers. Also, slight recovery in the price in the Southern region helped to maintain average prices steady on all India basis.
Price in the North India was relatively flat with some pockets seeing moderate upward movement. According to dealers, Monsoon was not as intense as it was in Western part during September and as a result saw a better demand pick up than previous two months of the second quarter. While Delhi saw a marginal dip of Rs 5 per bag, it was flat in Jaipur, Rohtak and Bhatinda.
Surprising pick up in the price to the extent of 5% in the Southern markets helped to maintain price steady on an all India basis. However, experts feel that price having fallen by Rs 40-45/bag during June-August period, marginal improvement in September was quite natural. While price recovered moderately in Kerala it remained flat in Bengaluru and Chennai. New sand policy in AP helped to recover price marginally.
Demand environment in Western region was impacted further in September 2019, as election code of conduct came into effect in Maharashtra and Ganesh festival and extended monsoon resulted in lower volume even on MoM basis. Volume declined by 5-10% while price declined by 1.3% MoM basis. However, the average prices in Gujarat markets remained broadly flat on MoM basis.
Interestingly, on the Eastern region demand momentum, which was impacted adversely for last couple of months led by slowdown in government spending and liquidity crunch in MSME segment, recovered in September, as monsoon waned and volume push by the companies resulted in higher volume barring Bihar.
In the Central region, Uttar Pradesh saw slight revival of demand as the intensity of Monsoon had reduced in September. Though there was volume improvement in UP, this has not helped to improve the price which remained flat during the month.
Dealers in North India expect demand momentum to improve further post Diwali with the further pick-up in infrastructure projects. In Southern markets demand may pick up as the Monsoon has started withdrawing. In Western region, state election may impact demand in Maharashtra in October while the Navratri festival may have its impact in Gujarat. Easing of flood situation in Bihar and conclusion of Durga Puja festival may see revival of cement demand in the later part of the month in the Eastern region. Dealers in UP expect demand momentum to improve further after Diwali with the pick-up in construction activities and increased sand availability.