Dairy product prices inched higher at the Global Dairy Trade auction, rising for the 11th straight time, even as whole milk powder posted a third consecutive decline.

The GDT price index gained 0.4 per cent from the previous auction three weeks ago. The average price was US$3490 a tonne, compared with US$3447 a tonne three weeks ago. Some 15,375 tonnes of product was sold, down from 16,166 tonnes three weeks ago.

Whole milk powder, however, eased 0.5 per cent to US$3249 a tonne.

"Whole milk powder (WMP) lost ground for the third consecutive event," ANZ Bank economists Susan Kilsby and Miles Workman said in a note.

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"WMP nearby contracts, associated with the current dairy season's production, were better supported and prices were generally aligned with market expectations," according to Kilsby and Workman.

"WMP prices are very close with where they were this time of the season in the past two years."

At the latest GDT auction, rennet casein climbed 3.1 per cent to US$6610 a tonne, while skim milk powder advanced 2.8 per cent to US$2,521 a tonne, and anhydrous milk fat rose 1.4 per cent to US$6217 a tonne.

Butter was steady at US$5486 a tonne.

Meanwhile, cheddar fell 2.4 per cent to US$4217 a tonne, while lactose fell 2.7 per cent to US$887 a tonne, and butter milk powder sank 10.3 per cent to US$3242 a tonne.

For sweet whey powder, no product was offered or sold, or no price was published for the last event, or on both of the two previous events.

The New Zealand dollar last traded at 65.94 US cents as of 2.34pm in New York, compared with 66.14 US cents at the previous close in Wellington.

There were 105 winning bidders out of 179 participating at the 14-round auction. The number of registered bidders was 529, up from 527 at the previous auction.

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