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Cement prices firm up in east

Calcutta, Dec. 2: Leading cement manufacturers have joined forces to raise price in the east by nearly Rs 10 per 50-kg bag (the standard retail measure) to Rs 170.

Cement is dearer in the Northeast by Rs 15-20, though in the interiors of Bengal it is around Rs 5 cheaper than in Calcutta.

Last month, cement companies raised price in the south, where it had fallen below the psychological Rs 100 level in early October. Cement now costs around Rs 130 per bag in the south.

Industry observers say there’s been no significant growth in retail demand over last year. Institutional consumption, however, has been rising due to construction of highways.

“There are some signs of retail demand picking up, and the cement companies are trying make the most of it,” said an analyst with a local brokerage.

Cement stocks have been on a roll for the last few months, thanks to the spurt in institutional demand.

The top gainers among cement stocks were Larsen & Toubro and Grasim Industries. While the former is trading firmly above Rs 400, Grasim has topped Rs 900, and looks headed for new highs.

Grasim’s current close of Rs 921 is 175 per cent higher than the beginning of the financial year. Larsen & Toubro has gained 112 per cent over the last eight months. It closed at Rs 408 on the National Stock Exchange today.

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