WOOL sales in WA rebounded last week from the Easter auction recess by surging to the best fleece prices recorded for more than a year.
Smiling wool brokers at the Bibra Lake selling centre had trouble recalling a previous time when prices had jumped after Easter, when volumes and prices traditionally start to taper off.
"Bloody fantastic" was how one broker described the strength of last week's market, which was up by 40 cents a kilogram on some lines.
The Australian Wool Exchange Western Indicator finished the week up 31 cents at 1168c/kg clean on a larger than usual offering of 12,727 bales for the two days of sales.
The WA result compared extremely favourably with a Sydney index up 26c at 1157c/kg and a Melbourne index not quite as strong at 23c higher for 1113c/kg,
The combined Eastern Indicator showed a rise of 24c to 1130c/kg for the week.
Strong and widespread demand on Wednesday for a band of wool types from 18 microns through to 22 microns pushed prices higher than they have been for 14 months.
Compared to week 42 last year, prices in that bracket were up between 49c/kg and 71c/kg and, for the finer wools, up to 80c/kg better than the average price over the past year.
Best performing were the 18, 19, 19.5 and 18.5-micron wools, with prices jumping 36c/kg, 34c/kg, 33c/kg and 32c/kg respectively on Wednesday last week.
Oddments and skirtings were fully firm on two weeks ago but without the big price jumps, however they had been trading very strongly for a few weeks before Easter.
Techwool Trading and Chinatex (Australia) led the buyers, which also included PJ Morris Wool, H Dawson and Sons, Westcoast Wools, Fremantle Wool Trading and Tianyu Wool, in a very even spread of demand.
On Thursday, the sought-after lines retained all of Wednesday's gains and most added between 1c and 4c more by the close of trade.
The exception was 19.5 micron wool which powered on, adding a further 9c/kg on the Thursday for a jump of 42c/kg to 1246c/kg for the week.
Chinatex (Australia), PJ Morris Wool and H Dawson and Sons were the main buyers.
Dyson Jones Wool Marketing Services auctioneer Lyndon Hosking said the market rebound to new highs after the Easter break was something not seen for a long time, if at all previously.
"I think it's a first for the market with prices going upwards after Easter," said Mr Hosking, who keeps his own track of prices and currency exchange rate records.
"The overall support has been bloody fantastic.
"I was on the road (on Thursday), but on Wednesday there was a significant jump in prices - between 20 and 40 cents a kilogram across all fleeces.
"The market was very solid indeed, all types sold well.
"And it was good to see a lot more competition, demand was very widespread.
"It wasn't all going to Chinatex, there was some interest from Europe underpinning the demand."
Mr Hosking expected volumes to retract this week but he was unsure whether prices would.
"That's the crystal-ball question," he said.
Landmark's regional wool manager west Tim Edwards summed up the week in a similar upbeat fashion.
"It was a pleasing result in the market after coming off a week's break due to Easter," Mr Edwards said.
"Rarely do we see improvement post Easter and this on top of a strong close before the break has us at levels not seen since mid-February 2014.
"It's away nice to see the graph point up, especially when it goes against the trend of the past two years."