THE wool market attracted strong interest and momentum as the 2017-2018 selling season drew closer to an end at week 50 last week.
Despite a brief respite the week prior, the Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) eastern markets indicator (EMI) lifted again, finishing 10 cents higher to close at 2021 cents a kilogram, clean.
Merino types broader than 19-micron were highly sought after, again reaching record price levels.
The largest increase in price was felt in the 19.5 to 22.5-micron range, which rose by 10 to 40 cents.
Helping lift the 19 to 23 micron fleeces of late is the shortage of medium Merino wool.
Australian Wool Innovation trade consultant Scott Carmody said the continuing drought across most of Australia’s wool growing regions was causing a shortage of 19 to 23 micron wools, as dry conditions affect normal fibre diameter production.
“We are seeing a lot of the traditional 21-micron wool that normally comes from the big far western stations that produce 400-500 bale clips, tending to be finer than 19.5-micron,” Mr Carmody said.
“This is because they are ‘drought-affected fine’.”
Mr Carmody said the drought was not the only factor coming into play when it came to the fibre diameter drop.
“It has also been a lot to do with the breeding direction in the last 20 to 30 years,” he said.
“That’s also part of the reason we are seeing finer microns come through the market, but that’s not such a bad thing.
“If people can retain wool cut per hectare and get their micron finer, obviously that is to their advantage.”
AWEX reported that due to the fact that the coarser microns recorded the largest gains, the price differentials have constricted.
By the end of the sale there was only five cents separating the price of 19.5-micron to 21.5-micron.
Buyers from China were again dominant, with support from buyers for India and Europe.
Mr Carmody said the demand from top makers was more noticeable last week and in particular from one of the larger manufacturers ex-China.
“Their involvement increased exponentially as the week progressed and they became keener as prices at the superfine (18.5 and finer) end drifted ever closer to their broader counterparts,” he said.
Other orders for top making were evident as well through the smaller indent operators, and these orders also appeared to concentrate on areas away from the pressure point of 19.5 and 21 micron types.
Of the 28,029 bales offered nationally, 3.4pc were passed in, the same as the week prior.
Looking ahead, the expected offerings are falling away over the coming two weeks and are forecast to be 14.8pc less than the same period last year.