WA wool auctions roared into 2018 with a year-opening, record-shredding two days of sales last week producing the best results for woolgrowers in at least 20 years.
Gross turnover at the Western Wool Centre (WWC) last week was $28,405,043 on 13,287 bales sold, according to Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) market information manager Lionel Plunkett.
On those figures, the average price of a bale of wool sold at the WWC last week was $2137.80.
Mr Plunkett said it was the highest WWC weekly turnover since June, 1997, when the sale of 45,275 bales generated $34.3m.
But back then woolgrowers only received an average of $757.72 per bale.
“It’s the highest post-Christmas opening on our database,” Mr Plunkett said.
AWEX took on selling the Australian wool clip after deregulation of the industry and its records go back to 1995.
Mr Plunkett said gross WWC turnover on the opening Wednesday was $14,362,756 with 6981 bales sold and on Thursday it was $14,042,287 with 6306 bales sold.
“That’s also the highest (individual daily turnover for the WWC) on our database,” he said.
All micron price guides across a range of 17.5 to 22, along with the Merino cardings guide and the Western Indicator (WI), ended the opening Wednesday at new AWEX record levels.
They surpassed the previous records – set exactly four weeks earlier on the second last trading day of 2017 – by between 28 and 51 cents per kilogram clean.
By the close of trade last Thursday, those opening day records had been reset a further 6 to 26c/kg higher still.
But the wool market has been higher in the late 1980s under a regulated market with a reserve price.
Mr Plunkett said he could remember mid-micron wools – only the 19 and above micron price guides go back earlier than 2000 at the WWC – hitting 2400c/kg.
At the close of trade Thursday the 17.5 micron price guide was 2496c/kg clean, the 18 guide 2359c/kg, 18.5 guide 2255c/kg, 19 guide 2157c/kg, 19.5 guide 2058c/kg, 20 guide 1954c/kg, 21 guide 1814c/kg, 22 guide 1716c/kg and the Merino cardings guide 1564c/kg.
“We’ve still got a bit to go to catch the 1988 prices,” Mr Plunkett said.
With three trading days in the opening week at the Melbourne wool centre – to clear an accumulation from the Christmas-new year live auctions recess – and two at the Sydney centre, record opening results were also seen there.
But the biggest price rises for the week were at the WWC with the WI ending up 72c at 1888c/kg compared to the Eastern Market Indicator up 58c at 1818c/kg.
The record opening turnover at the WWC was in spite of a firming Australian dollar making wool more expensive for international customers and a much larger than usual offering of 13,796 bales locally and 53,517 nationally.
The 7174-bale WWC opening day offering was its largest since the second trading week in January last year.
A passed-in rate of 3.7pc for the week was not indicative of the stiff competition between buyers for good specification Merino fleece, cardings and lambs’ wool.
The overall figure was skewed by a crossbreds fleece offering more than double what it has recently been, which failed to generate great enthusiasm among buyers.
In his market reports WWC technical controller Andrew Rickwood noted the clearance rate for Merino fleece was “again very high”, at more than 99pc on Wednesday and 95pc on Thursday.
Anticipation of a red-hot opening market saw a packed out public viewing room at the WWC on Wednesday with Landmark, Primaries of WA and Westcoast Wools brokers all hosting client guests to watch their clip being sold.
“Frightening,” was a one-word market summation by Modiano wool buyer Greg Horne after the end of the first trading session for the year in which oddments, pieces, bellies and skirtings were sold.
“They’re buying everything,” Mr Horne said of competitors.
Even before any full fleece wool had been sold, the top-price bid – for 16.3 micron, 66.6pc yield combing length weaners’ and lambs’ wool – had already hit 1760c/kg greasy, a price rarely achieved prior to last October for top specification full fleece.
Although second top buyer nationally last week, major Chinese wool buyer Seatech Industrial – formerly Chinatex –- was not prominent at the WWC.
Techwool Trading with 16.1pc of the offering and Lempriere (Australia) and PJ Morris Wools, each with 14.3pc, were the main buyers on Wednesday.
Morris with 17.1pc, Lempriere with 15.5pc and Swan Wool Processors 15.1pc were the main buyers on Thursday.
Some regular buyers were also still on holiday and did not attend which meant the new year started with a rush for Perry Roberts.
Mr Roberts, who normally buys for Lempriere, was bidding for four client companies on the opening day.