Strong confidence wool won't catch coronavirus gloom

Wool trade confident despite ongoing coronavirus dramas

ALL SMILES: Robert Ryan, managing director of Schute Bell Badgery Lumby, Sydney, with Robyn Clubb, chair of AWEX, Araluen, NSW, and former executive director of the NCWSBA, John O'Connor.

ALL SMILES: Robert Ryan, managing director of Schute Bell Badgery Lumby, Sydney, with Robyn Clubb, chair of AWEX, Araluen, NSW, and former executive director of the NCWSBA, John O'Connor.


The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia celebrated its centenary in Melbourne last week.


Key players in the wool industry are confident the market can keep shrugging off the impact of coronavirus in China.

Many of them were in Melbourne last Thursday to help the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia (NCWSBA) celebrate its centenary.

Leading the celebrations was NCWSBA president, John Colley, who said the wool market had been "defying logic" in the past five weeks.

"It's gone up every day," he said.

China is the major buyer of Australian wool and its factories, transport, banking and retail sector have been in virtual lockdown since the start of the year as Beijing tries to stop the spread of the disease.

Yet plenty of wool business was being done with China at the end of last week with buyers prepared to take a position in the market and pay extra for storage.

"You've got to think that long term, it augurs fairly well for the price of wool," Mr Colley said.

He said the relatively small offerings of wool at the moment had also been a "blessing" for the market.

However, the coronavirus has continued to spread beyond China and has sharemarkets around the world extremely nervous about its impact on the international economy.

Leading growers, brokers and exporters attended the NCWSBA's 100th birthday celebrations which included a centenary auction and cocktail reception at venues of historic importance to the Melbourne wool trade.

The auction was held in the building which was the home of Melbourne wool auctions from 1914 to 1972 and was also the site of the first board meeting of the NCWSBA in January, 1920.

The old auction floor is now part of the Australian Institute of Music in Melbourne's King Street.

More than 200 guests then gathered in the nearby Intercontinental Melbourne The Rialto for a cocktail reception.

The two buildings which make up The Rialto have had a long association with the wool industry including being the location for Melbourne wool sales in the late 1890s and early 1900s and also housed a number of wool broking companies.

Among the guests was Schute Bell Badgery Lumby managing director, Robert Ryan, who said farmers wanting to make money should get into the "sheep business".

He said the outbreak of coronavirus had put the Chinese economy under pressure but other wool buyers including India and the Czech Republic had stepped up their purchases.

Australian Wool Innovation board member and Victorian superfine and ultrafine grower, Noel Henderson, said hopes were high the coronavirus emergency would be resolved quickly with scientists all over the world working on solutions.

Mr Henderson, who joins about 4000 ewes at Avington, Sidonia, offered four bales of 15 micron Merino locks at the centenary auction and was pleased with the price of 930 cents a kilogram greasy.

Not so optimistic was Robin Jackson, Lake Repose Partnership, Glenthompson, Vic, who said coronavirus and Donald Trump were big worries for the wool industry.

He was also concerned the big volumes of wool passed-in at recent auctions was now in storage and would have to come back onto the market.

Richard Burns and Vivienne Bowman, Bundi Partnership, Hill End, NSW, were delighted to provide wool for the Australian Wool Network's catalogue for the centenary auction.

They said they were both confident about the future of the wool industry.

The Eastern Market Indicator climbed another 13 cents last week to finish on 1581c a kilogram clean while the Western Indicator in Fremantle jumped an impressive 43c to 1710c.

Prices were also firm at the centenary auction with 1316 bales sold to a top of 2250c a kg greasy for a bale of 14.3 micron fleece from the NSW New England.

A big group of growers and observers watched the sale from a gallery overlooking the rear of the auction floor as auctioneers from 12 NCWSBA members took turns at wielding the gavel.


From the front page

Sponsored by