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NZ log prices advance in 'humming' sector

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/05/2017 Tina Morrison

New Zealand export log prices generally rose this month, as key fundamentals move in the country's favour, AgriHQ said.

Prices lifted through all unpruned export log grades this month, while pruned logs experienced some minor weakness, according to AgriHQ's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers.

"The key fundamentals at the wharfgate have swung ever so slightly into NZ exporters' favour," AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said in his report titled 'Forestry sectors keeping humming'.

Shipping rates advanced by a small margin but appear to have plateaued and may ease in coming months, exchange rates had moved in exporters' favour, and demand from overseas markets was good across the board, he said.

Demand from China, the country's largest wood export market, was positive with imports of New Zealand softwood logs up by 25 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year.

"China is still displaying very good interest in logs, as it has throughout this year so far," Mr Brick said.

"Chinese log imports are tracking at quite a high level. Thankfully this has been matched by an equivalent lift in offtake at ports, which has prevented log inventories from ballooning out and subsequently impacting on pricing.

"It's not often that demand will fall back significantly from this point in the year, which bodes well for the coming months."

Mr Brick said there's little to suggest either the export or local log markets will suffer from any significant weakness in the future.

In the domestic log market, he said "all demand fundamentals remain well placed, and it's difficult to imagine a scenario where they'd move away from their current path.''

Forest products are New Zealand's third-largest commodity export group behind dairy and meat products.

Exports of log, wood and wood articles increased 15 per cent to $4.14 billion in the year ended March 31.

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