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Commodity prices fall 1.3% in March on weaker dairy, forestry, seafood

The ANZ Commodity Price Index slid to 230.5 in March.

Tina Morrison
Tue, 05 Apr 2016

New Zealand commodity prices fell 1.3% in March as weaker dairy, forestry and seafood prices outweighed advances in meat prices.

The ANZ Commodity Price Index slid to 230.5 in March from 233.5 in February and was 22% down on an annual basis. In New Zealand dollar terms, the index fell 2.9% in March for a 14% annual decline.

Dairy price declines weighed heavily in March, with an 11% decline in casein, a 12% fall in cheese, and a 7.7% drop in butter, ANZ rural economist Con Williams said in his report. Milk powders, which make up a larger proportion of New Zealand exports, didn't face the same pressure with prices for skim milk powder down 3.7% and whole milk powder prices up slightly at 0.4%.

"Oversupply in key US and European markets looks to be the catalyst," Mr Williams said.

Dairy product prices have fallen for five of six auctions on the GlobalDairyTrade platform this year, as the European Union signals it will underpin production even in the face of global oversupply, and amid continuing Russian import bans and weaker demand from China following a build-up of inventories. Prices have remained lower for longer than expected, putting pressure on dairy farmer incomes, dairy debt levels and spending in rural communities.

Non-dairy prices in the ANZ index lifted 0.7% in March, the second consecutive gain. Beef prices rose 3.1%, skins increased 2%, wool advanced 1.4% and lamb gained 1.1%. Offsetting that, log prices declined 1.3%, seafood slipped 1.6% and venison declined 3%.

While the local currency was broadly unchanged over the month as measured by the trade-weighted index, the kiwi strengthened against the US dollar, British pound and euro, offsetting declines against the Aussie and the yen.

"Lower export commodity prices point to a lower New Zealand dollar, all else equal," Mr Williams said. "The failure of the New Zealand dollar to buffer commodity price falls raises the prospect of a lower official cash rate."


Tina Morrison
Tue, 05 Apr 2016
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Commodity prices fall 1.3% in March on weaker dairy, forestry, seafood