5 Aug 2013

Slight recovery follows NZ dollar plunge

10:11 pm on 5 August 2013

The New Zealand dollar had recovered slightly by Monday evening after a steep drop at the start of the day's trading on the back of the Fonterra contamination crisis.

It fell as low as 76.99 US cents before recovering to 77.72 cents but is still down more than a cent from 78.85 US on Friday evening.

The dollar was still down against the currencies of New Zealand's other major trading partners on Monday night, falling about a cent to 87.55 Australian cents and more than a penny to 50.9 British pence.

Thirty-eight tonnes of contaminated whey was produced in May 2012 at a Fonterra processing plant in Waikato. The company says the contamination was caused by a dirty pipe. On Saturday Fonterra announced the international recall of 900 tonnes of spoiled products, including infant formula.

China is the destination for 19% of New Zealand's dairy exports and it has now banned all imports of New Zealand milk powder products, as has Russia.

Westpac market strategist Imre Speizer said the market would need to do a lot more reassessment and analysis of what the news meant for the economy.

ANZ Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie said the first real test for Fonterra will come later this week, in the latest bi-monthly global auction. Mr Bagrie said he expects prices for contracts to be delivered in the near term to fall.

But, he said, if the six and nine month contracts hold up reasonably well, that indicates confidence in Fonterra and New Zealand's dairy trade.

Meanwhile Fonterra's co-operative shares, which are owned only by dairy farmers, are down 4% or 29 cents to $6.85.