LIVE auction bale offerings at the Western Wool Centre (WWC) seem to have found a level the market can accommodate.
With autumn shearings in Western Australia now producing more wool in total volume than the traditional spring shearings, last week's 9951-bale WWC offering was the third biggest so far this year, according to Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) statistics.
Only once in the eight weeks since WWC live wool auctions resumed after the Christmas and new year break, has the weekly offering slipped below 9000 bales - a fortnight ago, week 34 of the current wool selling program, according to AWEX.
The two WWC offerings so far this year bigger than last week's were week 30 at the end of January, when 11,309 bales were offered and 9.7 per cent were passed in and week 32 when 12,720 bales were offered and 27.6pc were passed in.
In a national context, those bigger WWC offerings were competing for buyers against lesser choices of wools in Eastern States, with national AWEX live auction offerings relatively smaller at 42,794 bales in week 30 and 46,359 bales in week 32.
Last week's national live auction offering was the second largest so far this season at 50,120 bales and with AWEX's Melbourne selling centre trading an extra day to clear the backlog.
The national offering is projected to continue growing this week to 52,462 bales which, if it eventuates, will be the biggest so far this season and although the Melbourne centre is back to trading two days, it will open one sale room an hour earlier to get through the big offering.
So against that backdrop, wool brokers generally considered last week's WWC auction results were not too bad, all things considered, even though the Western Market Indicator (WMI) shed 15 cents for the week to finish at 1444c per kilogram clean, 1c more than the benchmark Eastern Market Indicator shed.
The passed-in rate at the WWC last week was 15.3pc compared to the national rate of 12.2pc, but the number of bales withdrawn before auctions started was back to 3.2pc at the WWC last week - less than half of what it had been the week before - and comparable with the 2.8pc national withdrawn rate (3.6pc in Melbourne, 1pc at the Sydney selling centre).
To further put last week's offering size into context, the WWC daily offering on each trading day was bigger than the WWC weekly offering of 4611 bales total in week 12 of the current season, back at the start of spring shearing in September.
A year ago - week 35 last season - AWEX statistics show the WWC offered 893 more bales, with a weekly offering of 10,844, but sold 1104 fewer of them than it did last week, with a passed-in rate blowing out to more than double what it was last week.
More importantly from a woolgrower's perspective, the more bales sold last week than on the same week last year were sold for significantly better prices at the finer end of the micron spectrum.
The WMI finished week 35 last season at 1360c/kg.
Then, the 18 micron Merino fleece guide was 1843c/kg, compared to 2134c/kg last week (up 14c for the week) and the 19 micron guide was 1605c/kg compared to 1673c/kg last week (down 25c for the week).
The 20 micron guide 12 months ago was 1394c/kg, compared to 1392c/kg last week (down 19c) and the 21 micron guide 1312c/kg compared to 1306c/kg last week (down 32c).
Merino skirtings were bringing 881c/kg last year and 942c/kg (up 5c) last week.
Local trader PJ Morris and national trader Techwool Trading swapped top and second positions on the WWC daily buyers' list last week, with Chinese indent company Tianyu Wool third both days.
WWC sale days this week have been pushed back a day because of Monday's Labour Day public holiday and at this stage, the WWC is scheduled to offer 12,511 bales, 2560 more than last week's relatively comfortable level.
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