Demand keeps commodity prices high

New Zealand butter drove increased commodity prices. Photo supplied.
New Zealand butter drove increased commodity prices. Photo supplied.
Robust demand for New Zealand's key commodity exports and tight supplies in some sectors have supported prices at high levels, the ANZ commodity price index shows.

The news may not be so good for New Zealand consumers, staples such as dairy products showing strong rises over the previous 12 months.

The index increased 1.2% in the first month of this year, nudging it to a record high.

Ten commodities recorded an increase in prices in January, three prices weakened and four were unchanged.

The price of butter recorded the greatest lift in January, ANZ economist Steve Edwards said yesterday.

The price rose 4% in January to be 33% higher than at the start of last year.

Prices of wood pulp and skim milk powder rose 3% in the month; wool, cheese and whole milk powder prices increased 2%; and casein and logs increased 1%.

Modest price increases were measured for sheep meat and sawn timber, both rising 0.25% in January.

On the other side of the ledger, beef, pelts and aluminium prices recorded falls of around 0.5%, he said.

The prices of venison, seafood, apples and kiwifruit were unchanged.

The forestry subgroup touched a new high in January, bolstered by a two-decade high in the price of logs and a two-year high for wood pulp prices, Mr Edwards said.

The dairy subgroup lifted for the second successive month to reach a nine-month high, he said.

Skim and whole milk powder prices have underpinned the rise with annual increases of 41% and 54% respectively.

Butter, cheese and casein had also contributed to the rise with cheese prices hitting a five-and-a-half-year high in January to be 23% higher than a year ago.

Seafood prices remained at a record high, while meat and horticultural prices eased between 2% and 3% below 2013 peaks.

Aluminium was the weakest performing subgroup, its price easing to a four-and-a-half-year low in January.

The value of the New Zealand dollar strengthened against all of the country's major trading partners, Mr Edwards said.

The high dollar dampened the strength of the commodity price index when measured in local currency.

It resulted in a 0.6% monthly rise in the New Zealand dollar commodity price index.

Annually, the New Zealand dollar index lifted 24%, which augured well for New Zealand's income base and improving the prospective economic growth rate, Mr Edwards said.

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