Commodity prices get buttered up

JAMES WEIR
Last updated 14:16 04/02/2014

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Rising prices for butter, milk powder and wood pulp have nudged world commodity prices for New Zealand's main exports to a record high.

The ANZ Commodity Price Index was up 1.2 per cent in January, to a new level in world-price terms.

While dairy products were again star performers and log prices hit a two-decade high in January, aluminium lost further ground, with prices down to a 4½-year low in January.

But a stronger New Zealand dollar in the month took the edge off the overall gain in world commodity prices, with the New Zealand Commodity Price Index up 0.6 per cent in the month. Over the past year, the New Zealand index, covering key exports, is up 24 per cent.

In world prices, butter was up 4 per cent in January, taking it up by 33 per cent from prices a year ago.

Prices of wood pulp and skim milk powder rose 3 per cent in the month.

Wool, cheese and whole milk powder prices increased 2 per cent.

On the other hand, beef, pelts and aluminium prices fell about 0.5 per cent in the month.

The forestry sub-group 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, ANZ said.

The dairy sub-group lifted for the second successive month to reach a nine-month high.

Skim and whole milk powder prices have underpinned the rise, up 41 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively in the past year.

Butter, cheese and casein have also contributed to the rise, with cheese prices hitting a 5½-year high in January, to be 23 per cent higher than a year ago.

Seafood prices remain at a record high, while meat and horticultural prices eased between 2 per cent and 3 per cent below 2013 peaks.

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- Fairfax Media

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