AFTER hitting a two-year high point in the middle of the month, the WA wool market sagged to a disappointing end of the selling season last week.
Live auctions had resumed following a week's break in trading at the Western Wool Centre (WWC) during which prices at Melbourne and Sydney wool centres had continued to gain for week 51 of the Australian Wool Selling Program.
But that made no difference in week 52 at the WWC.
Part way through selling the final catalogue of the season buyers were shutting down their computers, packing up and leaving, with their books closed early for the end of the 2021-22 financial year.
Nutrien Ag Solutions auctioneer Cameron Henry, who had the misfortune of trying to sell the last catalogue, shook his head and muttered "I don't want to do that again" as he walked out after the sale.
Before COVID, final sales of the season at the WWC were normally quite strong, with buyers looking to wrap up orders before the end of the financial year and prepared to pay a little bit more if it simplified tax returns and stopped the orders carry over into the new financial year.
On that basis, brokers had loaded up the final WWC offering for 2021-22 with 10,451 bales, but the lack of buyer interest meant only 7600 went new owners - a pass-in rate of 27.3 per cent, compared to 20.9pc in Melbourne and 12.9pc in Sydney.
Part of the problem was buyers at the WWC had seen at least 10pc of last week's offering before and, having rejected it at least once previously, were not prepared to reconsider at the reserve price levels being sought by sellers.
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Some buyers indicated they expected to see some of the same wools again next week, two weeks into the new season - wools which fail to sell at auction one week can be put back up for auction a fortnight later.
The finer end of the micron spectrum bore the brunt of buyer disinterest, with the price of 18 micron Merino fleece dropping 125 cents - the biggest fall of the week at any of the three Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) selling centres - to 2121c per kilogram clean at the WWC.
Close behind was the price of 18.5 and 19 micron fleece, losing 110c to 1948c/kg and losing 100c to 1727c/kg respectively.
Falls were significantly smaller, from 62c down to 5c, for the mid micron and broader fleece wools.
Merino carding went against the trend, as it often does and added 11c to finish at 929c/kg.
The Western Market Indicator (WMI) shed a relatively mild 34c for the week to finish the selling season at 1529c/kg.
This compared to the benchmark Eastern Market Indicator (EMI) which shed 44c to 1430c/kg - lower crossbred wool prices have an impact on the EMI but crossbred wool volumes in Western Australia are too small to influence the WMI.
Also, while fine wool prices were less volatile in Melbourne and Sydney last week than at the WWC, mid and broader micron wools lost more value there than they did in the West.
Techwool Trading was the largest buyer both trading days at the WWC last week, but Endeavour Wool Exports and Tianyu Wool, in second and third place on the first day, were replaced on the second by Meliwa and local trader PJ Morris Wools.
This week, the first week of a new selling season, the WWC offering is expected to jump to 12,476 bales and the national offering will also be a big one at 52,182 bales.
According to AWEX, gross turnover from live wool auctions at its three selling centres for the 2021-22 financial year was almost $2.62 billion.
This was $373 million more than gross turnover in 2020-21 and $647m more than in 2019-20.
At the WWC, Russel Fraser for national wool trader Techwool Trading, was the biggest buyer with a total of 58,329 bales or 20.1pc of the annual offering purchased last financial year.
Darren Calder, buying for local trader PJ Morris Wools, was second biggest buyer with 51,214 bales or 17.6pc of the offering and Zena Wareham and Dave Cox, buying for Tianyu Wool, an Australian subsidiary of one of China's biggest wool processors, were third with 34,886 bales or 12pc of the offering.
Nationally, Techwool Trading, Endeavour Wool Exports and Tianyu Wool were the three biggest wool buyers, taking one third of the national wool clip between them.
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