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AWEX drops; solid week for crossbreds
Jul '11
The AWEX Regional Indicators finished 2.1% lower, on average at the last sales of the season in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle this week when the US exchange rate rose by 1.8%.

The closing average for the AWEX EMI rose by 6¢ (despite the easing in the market) taking the season average to 1143¢. It finished 271¢ (31.1%) above the average for the 2009/10 season. 1143 is the highest ever season average.

31,351 bales were on offer, compared with 22,317 bales last week (when only Sydney and Melbourne sold). Pass-in rates were up, with 16.0% of bales passed in, comprised of 13.7% in Sydney, 12.1% in Melbourne and 33.9% in Fremantle. Pass-in rates for Merino fleece and skirtings were 23.0% and 8.6%, respectively. 26,336 bales were cleared to the trade.

The US exchange rate eased in the early part of the week due to uncertainty in Greece, but strengthened sharply on Wednesday and Thursday following the parliamentary vote of confidence in the Greek Government and the subsequent passing of additional austerity measures.

Australian currency was strong at the start of the season and has grown stronger over the 12 months. Terms of trade are at the highest ever levels and the Trade Weighted Index for currency is also at high levels. The US exchange rate was 88¢ at the start of the season, rose to 109.39¢ at the end of April and has hovered in the 105 to 106 range for most of the time since then.

This week saw the first downward movement in the market since Easter. Although softer demand was the key driver, the 1.7% increase in the US exchange rate on Thursday led to the EMI being up by 8¢ in US currency on the day and down by only 2¢ for the week. Merino fleece types were more affected than other types, with the greatest impact in the 19 to 22 micron range. The Western market appeared most affected. However, it was coming off a very strong market at the last sale two weeks ago.

It is important to keep things in perspective. The market remains at very good levels with the EMI still over 1400¢ and 11¢ higher than it was in the first week of June. It was the first week-on-week fall in the EMI since the first sale after Easter, when the EMI closed at 1306¢. Logic says that it cannot go up every week.

Looking at the season as a whole, it has been quite remarkable. The EMI averaged 882¢ over the first two weeks of the season, was 875¢ at the end of September, 1031¢ at the last sale before Christmas, 1152¢ at the first sale after Christmas, 1325¢ at the last sale before Easter and closed the season at 1409¢ after peaking at 1436¢ last week.

There were long overdue increases in fine wool prices, particularly in the last four months of 2010. The increase in Italy's buying activity was a major factor at this end of the market. The momentum was slightly less after Christmas, but still very good. The second half of the season saw the medium and broad wools set much of the pace for further rises in the market.

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