* 2018 has seen a fairly mixed start to the year, with significant differences between regions and industries. Cattle prices have trended lower amid very dry conditions in much of Queensland, although recent rains will no doubt assist. On the other hand, lamb and wool continue to be standout performers amid arguably the biggest wool boom in decades. Dairy has been somewhat better recently following a bad run in late 2017. This gain reflects lower New Zealand production, although a sustained upturn seems less likely.
* Grains continue to be a mixed bag. While uncertainty about the state of the sorghum crop (combined with disappointing winter crop yields in some areas) has kept domestic prices at a premium, global markets show little evidence of an uptrend. Meanwhile, new Indian tariffs have badly dented pulses prices. Overall, the NAB Rural Commodities Index was down 2.0% in January.
* Looking ahead, the level of the Australian dollar will be a major issue. The AUD saw a significant run up in late 2017 and early 2018, breaking the 81c barrier for a time. Recent market turmoil has blunted the AUD’s rise, although we have revised up our AUD forecasts from the 70-75c range to the 75-79c range for much of 2018.
For further details, please see the attached report.