New Zealand commodity prices saw broad-based gains in February, with meat and steel increasing while wool continued to fall.
The ANZ Commodity Price Index rose 0.2 per cent in February to 282.3 and was up 20.9 per cent on an annual basis. In New Zealand dollar terms the index rose 0.6 per cent in the month and 9.2 per cent on an annual basis as the stronger kiwi against the US dollar meant 10 of the 17 commodities experienced a fall in local returns.
Wool prices dropped 4.2 per cent month-on-month, with lack of interest from China driving the further large fall, though auction prices stabilised late in the month with producers refusing to sell below the cost of production, ANZ agri economist Con Williams said.
Dairy prices rose 1.2 per cent in February, with milk powder, butter and cheese all improving, while casein prices fell 2 per cent.
"Sentiment in dairy markets has softened recently and milk supply conditions have improved from a torrid second half in 2016," Williams said. "However, Chinese import demand remains strong and this is expected to help underpin market fundamentals."
Prices rose 4.4 per cent in the meat and fibre group, with beef up 11.3 per cent on the back of tight Australasian supplies and US importer restocking, and lamb prices up 0.5 per cent with Chinese and Middle Eastern demand for lamb flaps and forequarter cuts strengthening.
Aluminium gained 4.2 per cent, continuing its recovery, while forestry rose 1.5 per cent in the month on Chinese demand. Log prices rose 1.8 per cent with favourable demand from both local processors and China continuing, and wood pulp prices were up 2.8 per cent, buoyed by continued Chinese demand, delays in supply and low inventories.
Seafood prices fell 0.5 per cent, though most products showed small lifts, with the overall decline driven entirely by a 5.8 per cent fall in rock lobster prices, Williams said. Seafood prices have been a consistent outperformer recently with overall prices up 15 per cent since April 2016.