Dollar plunge raises export hopes

James Nason, 23/09/2011

A four-cent overnight plunge in the value of the Australian dollar against the US greenback has revivied hopes of improved export competitiveness for Australian beef.

After briefly dipping below parity on global debt fears yesterday the Australian dollar shed four cents overnight as international investor sentiment deteriorated further to sit at US 96c.92c early this morning.

It is the A$’s lowest level since December 2010.

Prime markets have lifted considerably in recent weeks, but it has been concerns about lack of supply rather than an improvement in export conditions that have fuelled recent rises as processors raise rates to entice more grown cattle out of paddocks.

Store cattle prices have traded at 25-30pc above prime cattle rates for most of the year but the ongoing incremental lifts in processing rates have gradually pushed heavy steer prices up to their highest level for several months.

The sudden change in currency rates witnessed overnight could provide a new spring in the step for exporters if current or lower dollar levels are sustained.

A lower Australian dollar versus the US greenback improves the price-competitiveness of Australian beef into export markets and also makes product from competitors trading in US dollars more expensive.

The renewed fears of a global recession that triggered last night’s dollar freefall may not be conducive to sudden boosts in beef demand and/or export orders, but people still have to eat and trading from a more favourable currency basis should be good news for Australian exporters on balance.

Bullocks at the Roma prime cattle sale yesterday were making over $1.90, closing the gap on the $2.20-$2.30 being paid for backgrounding steers.

The NLRS's heavy steer indicator this morning was at 194.20c.

Meat and Livestock Australia said producers had responded to higher prices by lifting turnoff in the past week, with national supply to saleyards up by 20pc to the highest levels since late autumn.

Despite the increased yardings, the benchmark Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) was 4.75c higher for the week, settling on 404.75¢/kg cwt on Wednesday – 9pc higher year-on-year.

The EYCI was slightly lower again this morning at 402.25.


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