The seasonal boom in construction is being blamed for rising building materials prices.

The demand for sand, cement, brick and steel all rise in the final months of the year as individuals and enterprises rush to complete repairs and construction projects before the lunar new year.

Cement prices have increased 10 percent while the prices of brick and sand have also risen by about 7-12 percent since earlier in the year.

Sand, used in mixing cement, has become harder to come buy during the year-end building season, with authorities cracking down on illegal sand dredging along many waterways.

Brick kilns have also fallen behind seasonal demand.

Cao Danh Man, general director of Danh Man Co Ltd, a distributor of brick products, said the company no longer had supplies to sell and were back-ordered by over a week.

"Prices in November rose by 30 VND per brick, about 4 percent over earlier prices," Man said.

Cement prices have also risen by 40-50,000 VND (2-2.50 USD) per tonne. Manufacturers Nam Ha and Vinakasai Ninh Binh were selling at 710,000 VND (35.50 USD) and 850,000 VND (42.50 USD) per tonne, respectively.

At the retail level, the price of Ha Tien-branded cement has increased from 70,000 VND (3.50 USD) to 73,000 VND (3.65 USD) per 50-kg bag.

The Vietnam Steel Corporation has increased steel prices by 300,000 VND per tonne, with steelmakers Vina Kyoei, Pomina, Viet-Han and Viet-Duc all following suit. Rolled steel stood at 14.5-14.8 million VND (726-740 USD) per tonne, up 1.5 million VND (75 USD) per tonne from prices in July, while steel bar was priced at 14.6-15.3 million VND (728-765 USD).

The Vietnam Steel Association attributed increased steel prices to rising global prices for pig iron and scrap steel, both heavily imported as raw materials in domestic steel production. An unfavourable foreign exchange rate had also driven up the prices of these raw materials.

Steel prices have risen, however, even while production has outstripped demand this year by 2.6 million tonnes./.