Talk Money with Tony Field – August 18, 2015

The forecast of $3.85 per kilogram of milk solids depends on prices rising more than 10 percent from where they are now (file)
The forecast of $3.85 per kilogram of milk solids depends on prices rising more than 10 percent from where they are now (file)

It looks like there could be some good news for farmers at tomorrow's GlobalDairyTrade auction.

The trading of futures contracts for dairy products suggests prices could rise after falling at 10 successive auctions.

The NZX futures price for the late August delivery of whole milk powder has risen to US$1560. That is an increase of $220 from where the contract was trading two weeks ago.

September whole milk powder contracts have risen to US $1925. The October prices are now at US$2000.

Credit Suisse points out that less than two weeks ago, the September contract price was down to $1400, meaning it has rallied around 30 percent.

One factor helping sentiment is that Fonterra will sell 12 percent less product at its auctions over the next 12 months.

Much of the reduction will occur in September and October. Fonterra is also factoring in a fall in production of 2 percent this season.

Prices will need to rise at the auctions if Fonterra wants to avoid another cut to its forecast payout this season.

The forecast of $3.85 per kilogram of milk solids depends on prices rising more than 10 percent from where they are now.

The co-operative is going to sell around 70 percent of its product outside of the auction. The challenge for Fonterra will be to find buyers for all of that product. Prices are a result of supply and demand, and right now demand is weak.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says: "Strong global dairy supply growth remains a headwind to a recovery in prices and confidence in the dairy sector is likely to remain weak for some time."

The economists at ASB are predicting modest economic growth for the rest of the year. But modest or not, it will still be growth. Although the economy is slowing ASB does not think the economy is going into recession.

Mr Tuffley says the economy has cooled off. Dry summer weather, weak dairy prices, and a levelling off in Canterbury construction activity will all contribute to the slowdown.

But he says "the economy is getting a little help from its usual friends. Interest rates and the New Zealand dollar are both falling.

"The lower NZ dollar will support growth from non-dairy exports while low interest rates will stimulate household demand."

He also expects that there will be more cuts to the official cash rate in the next few months, lowering it by half a percent from 3 percent to 2.5 percent.

The kiwi is up against all the major currencies this morning. It is trading at 65.70 US cents.

The kiwi is 89.09 Australian cents. The dollar is buying 42.15 pence, 81.72 yen and 59.29 euro.

It is looking increasingly likely that Apple is developing its own self driving, electric car.

Britain's Guardian newspaper has revealed documents showing Apple has been looking for a test location in southern California.

Apple has hired hundreds of employees from the car industry for what has been dubbed 'Project Titan'.

But there are lots of challenges for Apple if it is developing its own car.

Google, Tesla, Uber, Volkswagen, Honda and Mercedes-Benz are all working on self-driving cars. Virtually every car company is developing an electric car.

But Apple will want to avoid the innovator's dilemma. This phrase was coined by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen. His 1997 book looked at why companies that develop innovative products usually struggle to stay at the top.

It is not that they do not want to develop more great products. But they tend to become preoccupied fending off challenges to their existing products.

There is also a reluctance to spend the money required to develop those products.

Apple has the desire and the resources to pursue new products.

Here is my chat with Paul Henry about Apple.

Tesla's share price got a lift this morning, following an analyst's prediction that the stock could double in price thanks to its own work in the area of driverless cars.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas believes that there are huge opportunities for Tesla to enter the "shared mobility" space. This means Tesla might be able to operate in the same area as Uber, using driverless cars that you summon via your mobile device.

"Ten trillion vehicle miles are driven annually. Firms with expertise in autonomous tech and networked machine learning can exploit the inefficiencies in the current model. Tesla may be uniquely positioned to dominate. Our PT rises to reflect its potential to lead the revolution in shared mobility."

He writes that "100 percent of Tesla's cars are electric, connected, and able to 'learn' through over-the-air firmware updates at any time".

"No other established automaker can claim this today. We expect all car companies would eventually see nearly 100 percent of their revenues shift from the sale of human-driven/individually-owned cars to robot-driven/shared cars."

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