Dairy price dips overshadow other commodity gains

Dairying's impact on the economy was further underscored yesterday, when price declines in three dairy commodities overshadowed the price gains of 10 other commodities.

The ANZ commodity price index for March dipped 0.1%, despite sheepmeat making a 9% gain to a two-year high, beef a 6% gain, marking a 15-month high and seafood up 1%, recording a new high.

ANZ economist Steve Edwards said the prices of cheese and skim and whole milk powders were the three dairy commodities to register a March decrease.

''The price of whole milk powder fell 6% in March, with the two other dairy commodity prices declining 2%,'' he said in a statement.

Yesterday's global dairy trade auction reported further price decline, as more product was traded.

''It's hard to say whether this trend will continue, given the impact of dry conditions in parts of the North Island, with prices dependent on the supply response of overseas producers,'' Mr Edwards said.

Commodity prices were nearly twice what they were at their low point during the global financial crisis, as measured in February 2009.

The prices of wool, pelts, wood pulp and aluminium increased between 0.5% to 1% and logs, butter and timber prices lifted 0.25%.

''Whether we're at a peak will depend on the extent to which further price rises in other export commodities can be achieved,'' Mr Edwards said.

He also noted the strength of the New Zealand dollar prompted a decline in commodity prices, when converted back to local prices.

However, commodity prices in New Zealand dollar terms remained elevated, up 12% on a year ago and only 6% below the March 2011 peak, Mr Edwards said.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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