In another solid performance, the Australian wool market defied the pervasive gloominess hanging over world trade and 44,000 of the 50,000 bales offered at auction were sold last week.
The market was a little softer in local currency terms as the Australian Dollar rode the commodities wave and closed the week above US0.73 cents.
In US Dollar terms, the wool market was five cents a kilogram stronger.
But with the value of the Euro plummeting, buyers over there - already hesitant about making further purchases - saw prices increase by 17 Euro cents overall.
Superfine Merino types experienced some adjustments in price, particularly in the southern region, to line-up with their northern counterparts - and a return to normality after the series of designated superfine specialty sales during the past few weeks.
Those lots with sustainable certification and/or non-mulesed declarations continued to receive significant premiums over lesser quality wools.
Interestingly, the price increase in South Africa for sustainable certification lots was less than the increase for "normal" wools.
This was not a huge difference, but perhaps the bubble of these types is beginning to deflate - or at least subside slightly as demand is closer to becoming satisfied.
Medium Merino wools across Australia were softer as buyers took the opportunity to pick and choose across the large offering, and downstream processors in general paused to reflect on current world events.
The knitwear sector is still performing quite well, even though feedback from the current retail season is not brilliant.
Those in the primary and secondary processing stage are certainly optimistic enough at this point to keep things moving.
Crossbred wools performed remarkably well given the large selection, as usual at this time of year, perhaps buoyed by the continued rise of the New Zealand crossbred market.
Not that Australian crossbred growers have been forced to endure the depths of low prices that the New Zealand growers saw during the past couple of years.
One of the biggest challenges for exporters and traders in the past two weeks has been the currency market.
One would think with the doom and gloom being generated by the Ukrainian war, the flight to safety would see the value of the US Dollar jump and "risky" currencies, such as the Australian Dollar, tumble.
Whilst the Russian Rouble followed the play book and plummeted by more than 40 per cent, the Australian Dollar actually rose after an early stumble.
It was eventually up more than a full cent across the week against the US Dollar.
But it is still five cents lower than at the same time last year, which is something to be thankful for - as an exporter.
The war in Ukraine is having isolated effects on the global wool trade, most of which are not visible here in Australia yet.
Some European companies have taken the position to cease all business transactions with Russia, so some business deals cannot be consummated.
Transporting goods from Europe to Russia has become much more expensive, with limited options now available on top of the huge increase in oil prices - and therefore fuel costs - leading to a doubling of freight costs.
Sanctions are starting to bite, making the business cash flows slower as uncertainty about the future increases.
No doubt China will seek to keep business channels with Russia open - at this stage anyway.
But the mood across Europe is becoming more pessimistic.
The biggest risk to the wool industry remains consumer confidence in Europe.
The longer the war drags on, and the higher energy costs go up, the more draining the whole situation becomes.
A speedy resolution looks unlikely at this stage.
But springtime will hopefully bring with it a brighter outlook.
Apart from knitwear, where the traditional 19.5-micron type has been supplanted by increased demand for 17.5-micron, the superfine Merino prices are beginning to run into some price resistance.
Merino prices still compare very well with other fibre prices. But some retail brands are beginning to refuse proposed price increases for garments made from superfine Merino.
Who eventually wins the argument over price will dictate demand back here in the auction room.
But certainly the discussions are becoming more difficult at present.
In China, demand for both superfine and medium Merino wool is bubbling along quite well, and indent orders will replace traditional trader's orders where cashflow is still constraining activity.
An increase in freight charges from Australia to China - of about 50pc - has been announced by a major shipping line, which will no doubt be mirrored by other shipping lines in coming weeks.
This will ultimately flow back to prices paid at auction for wool as buying barames are adjusted.
Although the futures market has softened right along the curve as buyers react to the higher risk environment, and temporarily withdraw their bids, and supply continues to grow - with just over 52,000 bales scheduled for auction this week - there seems to be sufficient demand to hold the market in the short-term.
The medium-term outlook has more uncertainty, and the geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe will play a major factor in determining how that plays out.
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