Wool Prices Soften in March

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Wool prices in key Australian markets drifted slightly lower in March on a dollar basis, despite rising in local currency.

Between Feb. 27 and April 2, the benchmark Australian Eastern Market Index (EMI) fell from $3.88 per pound to $3.83, a 1.1% decrease. On an Australian dollar basis, the index finished the month up by 1.9%.

Sales were relatively soft early in the month, with Chinese buyers coming back slowly after the lunar new year holiday, but then strengthened as the weeks progressed. During the last week of the month, sales were reportedly quite brisk for all counts and types.

Though buyers have seemed cautious, demand for wool has been relatively stable so far this selling season, and quantities sold have been steady to slightly up compared to last year at this time.

Though sales of fine Merino counts have been consistent for the last several months, a recent pick-up in demand for coarser counts due to the fashion trend toward tweeds and other woolen fabric looks has energized the market.

The Australian wool industry is projecting a decline in shorn wool production this year and next due to poor pasture conditions and the increase in sheep being grown for meat and skins. This could limit supplies and put upward pressure on wool prices.

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