Data shows that drop slowed in the first quarter of 2009 although steel continues to plummet

Metals prices levelled off in the first quarter of 2009, according to new data.

BDO Stoy Hayward’s Construction Commodities Index showed that the price construction firms paid for aluminium, copper, lead, tin and zinc in Q1 all fell at a much lower rate than the price paid in Q4 2008

However, the price of steel fell at an increased rate – 1.5 time that of last year’s fall.

BDO Stoy Howard said copper had show the biggest sign of recovery during the quarter, dropping 1% compared to a fall of 51% in the previous quarter.

Richard Kelly, head of construction at the firm, said this could be good news for industry since copper is considered a bellwether for the economy.

“When it levels off or increases then economists start to get excited,” he said. “The price of copper has slowly been increasing throughout the quarter, breaking through the US$4,000 mark for the first time in nearly five months. If the weakening dollar continues apace and the Chinese continue to re-stocking their supplies for construction, then we could well be seeing a positive effect on the UK’s construction market in the near future.”

In the meantime, he added, the continued fall in metal prices could come as a welcome relief to industry.

“The construction sector has had to try and wear significant price hikes over the past 12-18 months which, coupled with the downturn in the global economy, have nearly crippled the sector.”