Hefty sales price jump puzzling

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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Finally, wool prices lifted with gains of up to 50 cents/kg at last week's sales.

The Eastern Market Indicator rose 31c to finish at 958c/kg, breaking a losing streak that had extended to six consecutive sales, according to AWEX.

At Fremantle's one-day sale on Wednesday, the Western Market Indicator jumped 37c to finish at 961c/kg, the first upward movement since the beginning of the season.

Although brokers were uncertain why prices jumped so quickly, AWEX said the gains might have been linked to shipping dates, with buyers filling existing orders.

The trade also speculated the rise in the market could have been attributed to the Nanjing Wool Market Conference.

"It was another small offering with just over 33,000 bales," AWEX said.

Katanning woolgrowers Terry and Joan Barritt sold five lines (58 bales) of their Monalta wool clip at the Western Wool Centre last week.

The Barritts farm with their son, Douglass, and his wife, Carol, who have three sons, James, Miles and Lewis.

An 18.6-micron, 15-bale line of the Barritts' July-shorn wool sold for 769c/kg greasy while the other four lines of Monalta wool sold for similar values..

"It wasn't near last year's record prices when we had a top of 1571c but we are pleased with today's prices," Terry said.

The Barritts run a 3500-ewe flock and have been using Strath-Haddon bloodlines for the past 10 years.

"Since changing to Strath-Haddon, we have noticed higher yields and improved style," Terry said.

Landmark wool agent Stephen Squires, who classes the Barritts' sheep, said the recovery in the wool market could not have come at a better time.

"It was good to see Terry in good spirits again after being awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) earlier this year," Mr Squires said.

Joan Barritt, who also attended the sale, said Terry received the OAM in the June Queen's Birthday Honours list for his service to the community through Rotary International, which included the reconstruction of the World War I memorial at Araluen Botanic Park.

In Melbourne, the finest wool bale on record was offered at auction and sold by Landmark on behalf of Pyrenees Park, of Victoria, last week.

"The bale was 11.1 micron and fetched 110,000c/kg greasy," Landmark said.

Michell's WA state manager and wool buyer Fred Barrett, who has 43 years of experience, said the national wool clip had fined over the past 28 years.

Fred featured in a November 1984 _Countryman _ edition when he bought a bale of 17.3 micron wool which set a new State record price of 1930c/kg greasy.

"Things have changed since those times when Michell was buying around 96,000 bales a year," he said.

Fred said Michell still bought 20,000 bales of WA wool and the decrease could be attributed to the change to overseas processing.

"China's volume wool intake of greasy wool for its own processing has basically been the death knell of Australian early stage processing," he said.

Fred said not one topmaking plant was in business in Australia and only three carbonising plants and two scouring plants were still in operation.

"Most Australian scouring and topmaking machinery was sold to the Chinese," he said.

At last week's Fremantle sale, Fred's buying order included a two-bale line of 17.6 micron fresh lambs wool bought for 490c/kg.

It will be sent to the Michell's carbonising plant in Suzhou, China, and eventually be processed into woollen wear for the Japanese market.

"It is rare to see the market lift by so much in one day." he said at the end of the auction.

"Limited supplies of wool will continue to have a positive influence on the market."

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