Wool prices slipped 3% on a U.S. dollar basis between the end of November and the third week of December. Demand firmed as the year came to a close, and volume was healthy. The continued rising value of the Australian dollar helped stem the drop somewhat.
The Australian Wool Exchange Eastern Market Price Index declined from $4.67 to $4.64 per lb. in the last three weeks of the trading year. Wool prices ended 11% higher than their 52-week low of $4.18 per lb. reached in July, but still well below February’s high of $5.37. For the full year, the price per pound dropped 9.5%, in U.S. dollar terms.
Though the U.S. remains one of the top markets for wool apparel and accessories, demand for the fiber has suffered steady declines in recent years as the Americans migrate to warmer climates and tend to prefer synthetics from both a fashion and cost standpoint. Demand from Italy, China and India for higher quality finer counts has remained healthy, however, buoyed by relative strength in luxury retail sectors worldwide, and consumers’ appreciation for the fiber in sweaters, outerwear and accessories where warmth and authenticity are key benefits.
After a three-week break, the wool markets have resumed trading in early January.