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Rabobank Agribusiness Review

Rabobank’s November 2009 Australia and New Zealand Agribusiness Review.
Prepared by the bank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory division, the report provides monthly commentary on New Zealand and Australian economic and agricultural conditions. Highlighted in this report:
October was generally wet and cold for much of New Zealand. All regions are expected to have normal soil moisture conditions. By contrast October was dry across most of Australia, after average rainfall in September, with the southern coast the only area experiencing a wet month. The rainfall outlook for Australia is for average conditions into summer, with the exception of NSW and south-eastern Queensland, which are expected to receive less than median rainfall. The Southern Oscillation Index has shifted strongly towards El Nino conditions.

The momentum towards global economic growth strengthened in October, with data from the USA and China confirming the strength in the global economic recovery.
The Reserve Bank of Australia increased the official cash rate by a further 25 basis points at its early November meeting. The strength of the recovery was confirmed in the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, which showed considerable improvements in the economy relative to budget estimates. The latest economic data in New Zealand also shows an improvement in conditions, with further improvements in business confidence, although this is countered by a higher than expected unemployment result. Both the New Zealand and Australian dollars continue to trade at high levels.

Young cattle prices continued their slow decline during the past few months in both New Zealand and Australia, with soft demand in Japan and the USA and the strength of the dollars not favouring exporters. Strong sales of beef into Korea have though provided some welcome positive news.

International demand for dairy continued its upwards run through October, with demand conditions improving faster than initially expected, at a time when milk supply is limited. The news for New Zealand and Australian dairy producers is likely to remain positive at least until Northern Hemisphere supply starts to rebuild in early 2010.
The Baltic Dry Index started to trend back upwards during October. Oil also saw gains during October that have taken it to 12 month highs - it is now trading around USD77/barrel. 

World grain prices saw some gains during October, although started to slide late in the month. The gains have been welcome even though they are not supported by the fundamentals; global stocks are ample and demand for exports is slow. Yield results in Australia are generally positive, and quality and protein levels have been good. There is some downside news in regions affected by the dry conditions in early spring.


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