'Up a bit, down a bit', wool market drifts 19 cents lower

'Up a bit, down a bit', wool market drifts 19 cents lower

The market drift led to a relatively small negative change in the Eastern Market Indicator of 19 cents a kilogram.

The market drift led to a relatively small negative change in the Eastern Market Indicator of 19 cents a kilogram.


Up a bit, down a bit, the yo-yo of the wool market continues to swing.


Up a bit, down a bit, the yo-yo of the wool market continues to swing, although thankfully not as wildly as a couple of months ago.

A steady, almost becalmed early stage processing sector where most participants say things are "flat" is creating the current drifting pattern.

When the greasy market eases a little, like it did last week, people will buy a bit more knowing that it will not go down very much in the current environment.

Conversely when the market rises, as it did the previous week, people ease back and wait, knowing that we have not yet seen the trigger required for the greasy wool market to rise significantly.

So, last week in response to the previous minor blip up in prices, the market eased slightly - not by any large amount, but the tone was negative from the outset of selling on Wednesday and continued on the second day of selling on Thursday as well.

But by the end of the selling week the tone was better, with the market having shrugged off the lethargy and eased enough to bring a few bargain hunters out of the woodwork.

Fremantle was again the turning point, with another third of the offering being passed-in or withdrawn prior to sale, the activity generated by a couple of buyers eager to fill an order was enough to turn the indicators upwards again - presumably setting the tone for the coming auction week, unless there are any serious developments to derail things.

Overall the market drift led to a relatively small negative change in the Eastern Market Indicator of 19 cents a kilogram, with most micron categories being similarly affected.

In actual fact the market neatly pared back the previous rise when it rose by 19c/kg in week 20, then fell by 19c/kg in week 21.

Not statistically significant, given the importance of US dollar, euro or yuan driven pricing in this international market, and the EMI being a basket indicator is perhaps not the best measure of the wool market either - but one of those interesting facts that the industry spits out every now and then.

The few better style clips available last week fared very well, as did those with the prerequisite methods of preparation.

Discounts for poorer quality wools are obviously present, but buyers are also looking for creative ways to package things up, and a parcel of tender wool, with low vegetable matter and a better yield is still finding a suitable home in the processing fraternity.

Knitwear types are always the first ones to shrug off the sleep patterns of the hibernation brought about by the off-season, and the carding sector whilst showing a lot more restraint than a couple of years ago, is trending upwards and showing some signs of life.

The price comparison of cardings to fleece has reached more sustainable levels again, although a lot of the change has admittedly been driven by the drop in fleece wool prices, rather than a surge in the price of locks this time.

Most would expect the price difference to continue to narrow for the next couple of months at least as the seasonal demand for cardings and knitwear cranks up.

The worsted sector, or fleece wools being woven into fabric in the traditional sense for uniforms, men's and women's suiting is plodding along.

Orders are dribbling back along the pipeline, but not much more than that. Normally by mid-November there is a bit more urgency beginning to build and whilst some "brand names" are placing orders, many are choosing to remain on the fence.

No matter the location of the processor - China, Europe or India things are a little quieter than everyone would like.

The leaders of the industry, at the pinnacle of fashion and couture have laid down the foundation and are going about their business.

However, the second tier are just remaining a little more reticent given the number of units they must sell.

The further down the pyramid one goes, the larger the number of units and the smaller the margin per unit generally available.

So, a second or third tier garment maker/retailer wants to be confident the masses are active, and going to buy what is being offered this year before committing to a production strategy for next year.

Only last week the US/China trade deal negotiations were into the 'short strokes' - obviously the sheep kicked, or they nicked a bit of skin, because there hasn't been a whole lot of progress over the past seven days.

Risk sentiment, and therefore confidence has waned slightly with mixed signals coming out of Washington and Beijing.

The new year was mentioned in some reports rather than December, which would potentially see further tariff increases kick in on December 15, whilst they are preparing to sign an agreement to get rid of them.

Lots of posturing and establishment of negotiating positions are going on no doubt, but in the meantime the world waits, and waits, and waits.

Black Friday approaches, and this is apparently a big retail event no matter if your country celebrates Thanksgiving or not - at least the retailers are pushing that line anyway.

Then we roll into Cyber Monday, just in case people still have some cash left to spend after the Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings and those Black Friday gifts.

That little burst of retail extravagance will set the scene for the Christmas retail season and so should provide a measurable barometer for how things will pan out for the current selling season.

Hopefully it is positive enough for a few more to get off the fence and place some orders so we don't end up with another mad rush, and accompanying price boom, and then bust in the wool pipeline.

The official production forecast committee has again adjusted the anticipated number down for the 2019/20 season, and demand for mutton and lamb to replace a dwindling supply of pork around the world ensures the rebuild of the flock will take time when it does eventually rain.

The futures market highlights the solid base in the current market with spot prices as far as the eye can see, and growers are maintaining their propensity to pass it, when the price dips too much.

So, whilst there may not be a sudden surge in prices before Christmas, there is very little chance of a drop before then either - although it is the wool market.

The story 'Up a bit, down a bit', wool market drifts 19 cents lower first appeared on Farm Online.


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