BUYERS from around the world yesterday competed to buy more than 360,000 mink and raccoon pelts at the China Fur Auction, where fierce bidding drove Hongkong prices up. About 150 buyers, representing more than 60 manufacturers, skin dealers and importers, attended the auction, organised and conducted by China Animal By-Products. They bought about 70 per cent of the furs on offer. Director and general manager of China Animal By-Products Zhu Ren Yong said fur prices remained unaffected by the recession and were in fact increasing, driven by growing demand. Mr Zhu said yesterday's prices were about 10 per cent higher than those reached at a fur auction in Copenhagen last week. ''Hongkong prices are very strong in comparison with recent auctions around the world. Most of the manufacturers come to this auction, so you have more people bidding, pushing the price up,'' he said. Raccoon pelts are the most expensive, fetching an average of $400 each, and all 4,136 Chinese raccoon skins on offer were sold. Dark male Chinese minks were the next expensive, costing an average of $110 each, while the smaller female minks were priced about $80. Hongkong, the world's largest exporter of animal furs, hosts two auctions a year.