New Zealand commodity prices rose for a sixth straight month in January led by increasing pelt prices, though the strength of the kiwi dollar ate into the benefits for local producers.
The ANZ Commodity Price Index rose 0.3 per cent last month to a 10-month high 272.6. In local currency terms, the index fell 0.5 per cent to 177.2, its second monthly decline. The price of pelts climbed 5 per cent to a 12-month high, followed by a 3 per cent gain in log prices and a 2 per cent increase in skim milk powder prices.
Butter and casein prices advanced 1 per cent, while wool and timber prices increased a quarter of a percentage point. Prices for seafood, wood pulp, fruit, cheese and whole milk powder were unchanged.
"The New Zealand dollar commodity price index has remained in a relatively tight range over the past five months," economist Steve Edwards said in his commentary.
"The NZD price of beef, dairy and aluminium hasn't fluctuated very much over this period, but the NZD price of logs, lamb and seafood exports have slipped to their lowest in at least three years," he said.
The kiwi dollar rose as high as 76.46 on a trade-weighted basis, the highest level since mid-2007, and recently traded at 76.17.
China and the US showed the biggest increase in demand for New Zealand exports in the 2012 calendar year, with gains of $975 million and $245 million respectively. China increased its annual purchases of New Zealand sheepmeat by $151 million to $424 million and of milk powder by $337 million to $2.09 billion, according to ANZ figures. The US ramped up its imports of New Zealand beef by an annual $113 million to $911 million.