Word of the day

June 1, 2011

Edulcorate – to sweeten or purify;   to free from harshness of attitude; to make pleasant;to free from soluble impurities by washing.

Commodity index at record high

June 1, 2011

Commodity prices rose to a new record in May, the ninth month in a row that the ANZ Commodity Index increased.

Prices of kiwifruit jumped 27% and were up 19% from the same time last year.

Prices of skim milk powder, lumber, cheese and sheepmeat all rose 2%, while skins gained 4%. Log and venison prices advanced 1% and seafood gained 0.3%.

The monthly commodity price series comes after trade data this week showed primary produce drove the trade surplus to a record $1.1 billion in April and figures today showing the terms of trade rose to the highest level since 1974 in the first quarter. . .

In May, prices of nine commodities rose, six fell and two were unchanged, of the 17 monitored in the ANZ report.

Apple prices fell 7%, beef declined 5%, whole milk powder dropped 4%, aluminium fell 3% and wool fell 0.3%, its first decline this year.

Prices of wood pulp and casein were unchanged.

The high value of our currency took some of the edge of the increases with a .8% drop in the index in New Zealand dollars. although it’s 12% higher than a year ago.

Winning with social media

June 1, 2011

John Key and the National Party are winning with social media.

The Nielsen BuzzMetrics service measures and monitors comments made on internet publically displayed message boards and blogs and have determined from this how the New Zealand population who participate in social media view the performances of the leaders of the National and Labour parties, and also the two parties themselves.

John Key is clearly well ahead on overall commentary numbers and is currently in the box seat, although the gap is a little closer between the two main parties.

More importantly, when reviewing sentiment of the conversations about the political leaders it should be noted that both leaders have more negative comments made about them than positive, although for John Key, this is a pretty close call. Phil Goff, however, has a much lower positive sentiment than John Key, and a much higher negative rating as well. This means that overall Phil Goff is 21 points behind John Key on a combined positive and negative sentiment rating.

Both parties have substantial proportions of negative sentiment and are level with a much lower positive sentiment.

However, when reviewing the negative gap, it still favours National by a reasonable 10 points margin.

Overall the results were generally more balanced for the Prime Minister and his party, however with tones ranging from vitriolic to supportive . . .

Phil Goff and Labour appear to have attracted more consistently negative comments, surrounding his leadership qualities and the party’s election chances . . .

 . . . John Key has a much bigger fan base and number of followers on Facebook and Twitter, but Phil Goff has actually tweeted more. Phil Goff also has more recent postings on his Facebook page (16-25 May), but a high number are made by other people while John Key appears to be the only “poster” on his page. However, Key leads quite comfortably for the average number of comments and “likes” per his recent individual postings on his Facebook page compared to Goff.

 Summarising, Tony Boyte, Nielsen Associate Director of Research, Media comments “Clearly these early findings, especially regarding sentiment, highlight how important it is for New Zealand politicians to monitor what is being said in social media, right now and throughout the lead up to the November elections”.

Social media will play a part in political campaigns and the findings in this report are more or less consistent with polls. National and its leader are more popular than Labour and its leader.

People are more likely to complain about things they don’t  like than to praise something they do which could explain why both parties and their leaders attracted more negative comments than positive ones. 

However,  the views people give on social media don’t necessarily indicate how they’ll vote or even if they’ll vote at all.

Business opportunities from Gypsy Day

June 1, 2011

Contracts for dairy farm staff go from June 1st until May 31st and today is Gypsy Day when thousands of  of dairy farm owners, managers, share milkers and other staff change jobs.

There are obvious opportunities from that for businesses which move stock and household contents. There are others we hadn’t thought of until we got into dairying such as work for locksmiths, cleaners, carpet layers, painters and curtain makers.

Incoming staff often want to be sure that the outgoing workers won’t be able to get into their houses so lots of locks have to be changed.

Newcomers don’t want to deal with dirt and mess left behind by previous occupants either. Some workers keep their houses so clean you could just about eat off their floors. Others leave their houses in an appalling state.

Many need a heavy duty clean, others have to have curtains and carpets replaced and need repairs and repainting as well.

It’s a very poor reflection on the way some workers treat their homes but it does provide work for local businesses who get the work of cleaning and repairing the mess they leave behind.

It’s all about the sponsors

June 1, 2011

Highlanders fans upset about the change of colour for their team’s jersey have had their worst fears confirmed – it’s all about the sponsors.

A leaked memo to the Highlanders’ Board from the sponsor says:

Dear Sirs

We are committed to widening our voting base and extensive polling suggests that an association with a rugby team will do that for us.

Our MP enjoyed his first foray playing for the Parliamentary Rugby team and that has given us the confidence to embrace the Highlanders and their Southern Man ethos.

Although, since the team has no tradition it won’t matter if we tweak that a bit, will it? We could replace the bagpipes with pan pipes and introduce Morris Dancing at halftime.

We’re prepared to invest heavily in sponsorship. All we ask for in return is that the team changes colours for us and adopts parsnip wine as its beverage of choice.

It’s time to end the silly notion that sport and politics don’t mix. If you give us the jersey we’ll find the money.

Yours in sport

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

Upside to high $

June 1, 2011

The New Zealand dollar hit a post-float high of  82.62 US cents yesterday.

That makes exports traded in US currency more expensive but it also makes imports cheaper and the NZIER says it will help keep inflation down.

Inflationary pressures are building because businesses have seen their margins slimmed down and will want to recoup some ground when the economy picks up pace – likely to begin in 2012 as the rebuild of Christchurch gains pace, according to the institute Quarterly Predictions report.

“The RBNZ will need to raise rates next year towards 4% to offset these inflationary pressures,” NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said in a statement. “A high NZD is helping to keep a lid on inflation for now. We expect the NZD to remain elevated for some time,” he said.

 Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Economic Service’s report on movements in sheep and beef input prices showed a 4.1% increase in the year to the end of March this year, in contrast to a 2.9% decrease the previous year.

The increase has been driven by the price of fertiliser, fuel and increases in banking interest rates, says B+LNZ Economic Service Executive Director, Rob Davison.

 “The price rises for fertiliser and interest have a big impact given they are the largest areas of expenditure on sheep and beef farms.

If the higher dollar helps keep the price of fertiliser down and keeps a rein on inflation which in turn reduces the need for interest rate rises it will compensate for the currency’s impact on export prices.

Normally when the dollar is high farmers complain. There’s hardly been a whimper this time, and nor should there be. Commodity prices are still holding up and the higher dollar takes the pressure off the price of inputs like fuel, fertiliser and machinery.

The Fieldays open in a couple of weeks. They’re a barometer for farming confidence and exhibitors will be expecting to make good sales.

Spring-like autumn

June 1, 2011

Just over a year ago when I looked from the top of the hill above Enfield towards the Kakanuis, irrigated paddocks would have stood out like green ink on parchment.

When I was up the hill yesterday it was impossible to tell which farms were irrigated and which were not.

Niwa reports we’ve had the warmest May on record.

Data from climate agency Niwa shows the month was almost 2.5 degrees Celcius warmer than usual, with rainfall double normal levels.

The figures won’t be official until tomorrow morning, but principal climate scientists James Renwick said the provisional numbers were extraordinary.

“Two-point-five degrees doesn’t sound like much, but for the average over the whole month that’s huge,” Renwick said.

“Normally 0.5 of a degree is a record-breaker.”

The average monthly temperature had been 13.1C, a temperature normally expected for April, Renwick said.

The previous hottest May, recorded in 2007, had a mean temperature of 12.4C.

Rainfall totals were also extreme, especially in the eastern Bay of Plenty and Nelson regions.

We haven’t had the extreme weather other areas have suffered but mother nature has provided more than enough moisture.

Irrigation hasn’t been necessary and mild temperatures mean grass is still growing so it looks more like spring than autumn.

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