UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Bureau of Agricultural Economics
WOOL-23 I:ovombor 9, 1938
IV OFT R- THE WOOL SITUATION
DOC iTM ET EPT
E ... rF- -
This issue includes the major factors
in the Wool Outlook report issued
November 3 as a part of the annual
outlook for sheep, lambs and wool
With stocks of manufactured goods relatively small and with prospects
for an improvement in consumer demand next year, domestic mill consumption
of wool in 1939 may exceed that of 1938, reports the Bureau of Agricultural
The prospective increase in mill consumption will be a supporting in-
fluence to domestic wool prices. But the spread between domestic and foreign
prices at present is not much less than the tariff, and unless there is
some rise in foreign prices, advances in domestic prices of wool in the com-
ing year will be limited.
Stocks of wool in this country are larger'than a year ago. During
the remaining months of the 1938 domestic marketing season (to April 1,1939),
mill consumption of wool is likely to be considerably larger than in the
same months last year. If imports remain small, as now appears likely,
such an increase in consumption probably will result in smaller stocks of
wool in the United States on April 1, 1939, than at the beginning of the
70 OL-23 -2-
'nited States imports for consumption of apparel wool in the first 9
months of 1938 totaled only 18 million po-unds r onrpared with 139 million
pounds in the same months last year* Imports in the first half of 1939 are
expected to continue fairly small because of the relatively large stocks of
'.ool on hand in the United States. But imports may be somewhat lar-or than
Stocks of wool in most foreign importing countries, except Japan,
apparently are somewhat larger than a year earlier, when stocks were re-
Supplies of wool from the Southern Hemisphere in 1933-39 are expected
to be slightly lar.;,r than those of 1937-38 but about the same as avoragc
supplies for the 5 years 1932-33 to 1936-37. A prospective decline in wool
production in the Southern Hcmisphere in 1938-39 is more than offset by the
larger carry-over into the current season.
The weekly rate of mill consumption of apparel wool in the United States
in September was about 15 percent lower than in Auu:-t, but with the ex-
ception of August was higher than in any other month since AuLust 1937,
and was 94 percentt above the low rate in April 1938. Consumption on a
grease basis in the first 9 months of 1938 was 27 percent smaller than in
the same months last year.
Increased traiin: in the Boston wool market in October was accomp-nied
by price advances of 1 to 2 cents per grease pound on most graics of wool.
Average prices for combing territory wools at Boston in October were about
10 percent above the low point in Junrc but wore about 25 percent lo.'er than
in October 1937.
Wool prices advanced in Southern Her.isphere scllin:7 centers in
After remaining at a relatively high level since early 1935, mill
consumption of wool in the United States declined rapidly in the second half
of 1937 and early months of 1938. The decline in consumption was accompanied
by a sharp decline in domestic wool prices. Wool prices and consumption also
declined in foreign countries, but the declines were not so great as in the
The 1938 domestic wool marketing season opened in April with a much
larger carry-over of wool than in the previous season and with the average
farm price of wool about 45 percent lower than in April 1937. Stocks of
manufactured and semi-manufictured v.ool goods, however, were sharply reduced
in the early months of 1938. The Federal Government loan program for wool
producers provided an important stabilizing influence on domestic prices in
the early months of the 1938 marketing season, and an increase in domestic
mill consumption in July was acccmrpauied by an increase in domestic wool
Wool Sales and Prices
Increased trading in the Boston wool market in October was accompanied
by price advances of 1 to 2 cents per grease pound on most jradc-a of wool
at Boston, Combing 3/8 blood bright fleece wools advanced to 32-33 cents a
pound the last week of October compared with 30-31 cents the end of September.
Prices of similar 1/4 blood fleece wools at-31-32 cents a pound were 1 cent
higher than in September, but prices of fine Delaine remained unchanged at
29-31 cents during October.
Prices of graded combing territory wools advanced 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 cents
a pound, scoured basis in October. Average prices for coLibing territory wools
at Boston in October wore about 10 percent above the low point in June but
were about 25 percent lower than a yqar earlier.
The United States average farm price of eool on October 15 was 19.7
cents a pound compared with 18.7 cents on September 15 and 29.2 cents on
October 15, 1937.
Government wool loans
The Commodity Credit Corporation announced on October 25 that the
period for obtaining Government wool loans has boon extended to December 31,
1938. To October 22 a total of 96 million p-un.ds of wool hadbeoon appraised
for loans and of this quantity loans had been completed on 69 million pounds.
The loans have averaged about 17.6 cents per grease pound at warehouses.
Prospects for wool prices in 1939
The trend in domestic wool prices during the coming year will depend
to some extent upon charges in domestic mill consur..ption, but probably to
a greater extent upon changes in wool prices in foreign markets. It appears
probable that the prospective improvement in mill consu.:,ition in the coming
year -wll be a supporting influence on domestic prices. On the other hand,
the spread between domestic and foreign wool prices has increased in recent
months and is now not much less than the tariff. Consequently, without some
rise in foreign prices, in terms of dollars, advances in wool prices in
this country from present levels would be limited.
Stocks of apparel wool held by United States dealers and manufacturers
on September 24 were the largest reported since s,.pte-.bor 1935. Such stocks
totaled 320 million pounds, gr.-- e basis, on Suptember 24 compared with 276
million pounds a year earlier and 345 million pounds on September 28, 1935,
according to reports of the Bureau of the Census. Those figures include
wool afloat and in bonded warehouses but they do not include wool held on
farms and ranches and in local warehouses in producing States. Z:.Ilers hold
a somewhat larger percentage of reported stocks in September 1938 than at
the corrcsponding date in the 3 years previous. The stocks report:,d by dealers
and manufacturers on September 24 this year with romp=.risons are shown on
a scoured equivalent basis in the following table.
Stocks of raw wool, top and noil held by doalors,topmakers
and manufacturers in the Unitci Stat scoured basis,
September 24, 1938 with cormprisons
: 19)2 : 1938
Apparcl wool, total
Forcign on hand
Force ign afloat
rManufacturors & topmakers
Foreign on hand
: 1, ?6
.June 25 1/ Sept.24
C'.rpet wool, total
:_42,282 3Z2,02 20,702
S 2,302 4,064 3.087
: 39,400 27,961 23,695
Tops : 32,372 23,462
i!oils 12,13 7,862
Co.piled from Eur-au of the C-nsus :uartorly :'.'ol Stock
3Set ;..b:r 24, 1938. j/ Revised.
Carry-over into 1939 season may be smaller than in 1938
As a result of large imports and reduced mill consumption in 1937,
the carry-over of old wool into the 1938 marketing season was much larger
than the carry-over a year earlier, Wool production in 1938 is little
different from that of 1937. Since the beginning of the new marketing
season last April imports have been much smaller than a year earlier, and
the reduction in imports has been slightly larg-r than the decrease in mill
consumption from April through September.
During the remaining months of the 1938 marketing season (to April 1,
1939), mill consumption of wool in the United States is likely to be con-
siderably larger than in the same months last year. If imports remain small,
as now appears likely, such an increase in consumption probably will result
in smaller stocks of wool on A:'ril 1, 1939, than at the beginriin. of the
Production, imports and mill connz'.ption of apparel wool,grease
basis, in the United States, annual 1935-37 and April to
Septnmbr 1937 and 1938
Year General Mill
begrinninr; Apr. 1 Production imports / consu..tion
:Million pounds Mi l.ioin pounrjs 111 i o n pounds
1935-36 : 431 83 2/ 673
1936-37 : 427 164 582
1937-38 : 433 60 407
Apr.-Sept. 1937 : / 433 51 258
Apr.-Sept. 1938 prol. : / 435 11 232
Imports from the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce.
Consumption from the Bureau of the Census.
I/ Weight as reported; greasy, scoured and skin wool added toEther.
2/ Stocks of apparel wool in the United States were large at the beginning
P/ Production for entire year.
Till ConsL:umption and Imports
Domestic mill consumption of apparel wool in September was somewhat
smaller than in August but was larger than in any other month of the last
year. The decline in mill consumption in September probably was due to
seasonal conditions in the industry and to mill stoppage which resulted
from hurricane damage in New England in the last week of the month.
The wee!ely rate of mill consumption of apparel wool was 4,905,000
pounds scoured tb-is, in September. This was 15 percent smaller than in
August but 94 recent t above the low in April and 14 percent larger than
in September 1937. Consumption of apparel wool in thef irst 9 months of
1938 was equivalent to 257 million pou. s of shorn wool, gre ae basis and
47 million pounds of pulled wool. The consumption on a grease basis in
the first 9 months of this year was 27 percent smaller tr n in the same
months last year.
.Ccn..:,.tio.n in 1939 may exceed 1938
It is expected that the recent ii..-oase in mill co..:um tion of wool
in the United States will be fairly well maintained during the remainder of
this year, but because of the sm11 consumption in the first half of the
year, conzu: tion for the entire year 1938 is likely to be smaller than in
1937, ','ith stocks of manufactured goods remaining relatively small and
with prospects for an imp. movement in co..sumer demand next year, domestic
mill consumption of wool in 1939 may exceed that of 1933.
l_ .t. likely to continue fairly small
The small domestic mill c:nsu:.,ition of wool in the latter part of 1937
and early months of 193,5 was aLcco.:.alnicd by a sharp decrease in United States
imports. Ii.. orts for consumption of a: 'rel wool in the first 9 months of
1938 totaled only 18 million pounds coit..1..r.i with 139 million pounds in the
sanm months of 1937, when imports were relatively large, and an average of
about 37 million pounds for those monthshs in the 5 years 1932-36.
Although mill consumtion in thu early months of 1939 r;'-bably will be
lar-.r- than a year earlier, imports of apparel wool in the first half of
1939 are expected to be fairly small because of the relatively large stocks
of wool on hani in the United States. But i-L~ .rts may be someOwhat larger
than in 17.',
FOREIGN .IIT'..:.Ti ?1
Wool Sales and Prices
Southern i-::.i z" hr. sales
T t: average price of Australian 70s warp wool, clean basis, delivered
Bradford at the Sydney sales in Septe::ber was 44.4 cents a pound compared
with an av-ra.re rice of 67.1 cents a pound in the first month of the 1937-38
selling season. Early in Octob.er prices advanced 5 to 7-1/2 percent on
most wools of -:,od q.i tlity. En. land an' continental Lurer.-:.n countries
were the principal buyers, but J:.T-ain made moderate purchases in October.
Ur.ited States buyers took superior lots but such sales were small
Receipts of wool at Australian se'lin: centers so far this season have
been considerably smaller than in the same months last season, reflecting
the smaller ro.'. action. Disposals in the first 3 months (to S.;pte.b.r 30)
,:ere equal to those of the previous s season. Clearances have been excellent
at recent sales.
Wool prices advanced in the Union of South Africa in the early part
of October after showing some irregularity in September. The average price
of 70s warp wool at South African selling centers was 41.5 cents per pound,
clean costs, in September, the first month of the regular auction season.
In September 1937 such wool averaged 60.8 cents a pound.
The South African Government has announced that an agreement has been
signed with Germany whereby Germany vill purchase wool from the Union to the
value of t 3,700,000 ($17,600,000 at September 1938 average rate of exchange)
during the period from September 1, 1938, to August 31, 1939. In returns
the Union of South Africa will p'rc!-ae manufactured goods from Germany to
the same value, during those months.
This is the fifth such annual agreement between the Union of South
Africa and Germany. The sum allotted to wool purchases for 1938-39 represents
an incr-ase of about 14 percent over the value allocated in 1937-38 and an
increase of 60 percent over the 1936-37 allotment. In 1937-38 Germany took
approximately 35 percent of all South African wool exports compared within
average of about 22 percent in the 5 years previous. Since a stated value
is set for purchases, the quantity of wool obtained will depend to some
extent upon the price of wool during the current season.
South American wool markets reported little activity in September, the
final month of the 1937-38 selling season. Quotations for coarse crossbred
wool at Buenos Aires averag-d about 35 percent below final quotations report-
ed for the previous season in May 1937. 7Jhile the 1938-39 s-~ zon opened
officially on October 1, little trading in now clip wool is expected until
Ilovcmbor and December,
No wool sales were held at London in October. At the close of the
September sales, prices of most wools grading below 56s were about 2 cents
a pound higher than at the close of the previous series on July 22. Prices
of fine wools in October were slightly lower than in July when converted
to United States dollars, due to the decline in the exchange rate of the
.oojl Production in 1938
Preliminary estimates of wool production in 16 countries, including
all of the principal Southern Hemisphere producing countries and the United
States, indicate that world wool production in 1938 will be slightly smaller
than that of 1937. World wool production, exclusive of Russia and China,
totaled 3,4^7,000 pounds in 1937 which was about 1 percent largcr than in
1936 and was the largest production in recent years. Wool production in
Australia in 1938 is expected to show a reduction of at least 6 percent as
compared with 1937, but some increase in production is in prospect in South
Africa, Io:: Zealand, and Argentina, and in some Northern Hemisphere countries.
Wool production in Argentina in 1938-39 is expected to be about 375
million pounds, according to estimates just released by the Buenos Airos
Branch of the First National Bank of Boston. This is a slight increase over
a revised estimate for 1937-38 based on actual exports, stocks and con-
sumption. Average production in Argentina for the 5 seasons 1932-33 to
1936-37 was 363 million pounds.
The 1932-39 wool clip in Uru-ua.; is expected to show little change from
last year's production, which vas estimated at 123 million pound. Production
in L'r.- uay :v r_-ed 112.6 million ro':n.1d for the 5 seasons 1932-33 to 1'36-37.
-oc1 2_~.",i:s For 193 -3j
Latest estimates of production and carry-over in ..r:thern Hemisphere
countries tend to confirm the estimate of slightly larger wool cu-l Aies for
the 193:-39 season than in 1937-33. W7ol .reduction in the .::thern
Hemisphere in 193 I' .11 be smaller tha- that of 1937 as a result of the de-
cline in production in Australia, but the decrease in :.oiuction is more
than offset by the 1Irgcr carry-over into the current season. Total Southern
Hun-.r:h.re supplies for l`3-.1-39 are :.:o,:cted to be about 3 percent larger
than a c.ir earlier; but will be about u'-il to average su:-lies for the 5
years 1:'.i-'3 to 1' 3-37.
Stocks in i_.-_rti!.- countries
Information on imports and manufacturing activity, together with such
statistics as are available on raw wool stocks in forei -. importing countries
i:jdicato that stocks in .Iost countries, c..c'.:t Japan, on October 1 were
somewhat larger than a year earlier, whon stocks were relatively small."hile
there has boon some increase in mill activity in France and Germany, imports
of w.ool into those countries in the 1937--<' importing season :.ore much larger
than in the previous season. Lill consumption in the United Kin-dor. in the
last -::r has been much smaller than a year earlier, but iuLorts have in-
Stocks of raw r:ool in JL -_ni: zw;arehouses at the end of June were about
34 million pounds, accordi:.; to the la'ast statistics published in Wool
Intelligence notes. This was 8 million pounds above the F-bruary low point
but was the s...allest quantity re.crt-. for June 30 since 1931. I-,ports into
J-. -r. arc likely to remain curtailed under present economic conditions, but
perhaps not to so .r-.t an extent as in the 1937-,- season.
Southern H,-:..1";hre .:-orts In 1937-38
.':;.orts of :ool from the 5 principal :re'.:.uci" countries of the
Southern :e:. i;;h.re for the 1937->"- sc-.son 1/ totaled 1,626 million pounds,
a decrease of almost 10 p-rc::.L below the 1J6;-37 exports. The decrease
was due to a decline of about 1C. million pounds in ex::erts to the United
Sth-t.: rnd a i.cline of 160 -:.ll-cn pc,:nds in exports to Japan. Experts to
Germany from the 5 Southern E}-..ia-.hre countries were _p:roximatcly 110
mii.o:n :.c.u..i 1 -.r.-_r than in the Lr.-vious season and exports to France about
70 million pounds lar;:r. Soo tables 4 and 5.
1/ Season ended June 30, 1933, in Australia, Herw Z.aland and the Union of
South Africa; Sept:...L:r 30 in Argentina and Uruguay.
Table 1.-Prices of wool per pound in specified markets and prices of
textile raw materials in the United States, selected periods,
Mari:et and : Average : Oct. : 1938
description : 1936 : 1937 : 193 : Aug. : Sept. : Oct.
Territory combing, scoured basis:
b4s, 70s, 80s (fine)
56s .(3/8 blood)
46s (low 1/4 blood)
Farm rice, 15th of month,
Average quality, clean cost 2/ :
Average price at selling
centers, grease wool 4/
Sydney (delivered Bradford)
70s warp, clean basis 5j]
Union of South Africa:
Average export price greasy wool:
Price at selling centers, 70s :
warp, clean cost 6/
Wool, territory fine staple J/:
Cotton, 7/8 middling 8/
Silk, Japanese 13-15 2/
Eayon yarn, 150 denier 10/
Cents Cents Centsi Cents Cents Cents
26.9 32.0 29.2 19.5 18.7 19.7
23.0 24.7 22.6 15.4 15.1
62.9 67.5 63.0 --- 44.4
25.1 23.5 14.6 15.4
60.5 62.9 56.8
Foreign prices have been converted at prevailing rates of exchange. Yearly
averages are averages of monthly prices except United States farm price which is
a weighted average.
I_/ Average of quotations for each series of London sales reported by the London
office of the bureau. For months when no sales were held, figures are interpolated.
2/ Top and noil in oil. 3/ Quotations reported about the 25th of the month by
the London office of the Bureau. 4/ Reports of the iNational Council of Wool Sell-
ing Brokers. 5/ Monthly averages of weekly quotations, from the Wool Pecord and
Textile World, England. 6/ Monthly averages of weekly quotations of the South
African Ministry for Agriculture. j/ Scoured basis at Boston. 8/ Average at
10 markets. V/ 78 percent white at New York, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
10/ Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- 9 -
i"ile 2.-United States: Wocl imports, cornsum-tion anr. machinery
activity, specified period, l177-38
I-.Fnrts for c':.-'-.-'ion
actual weight: I/
Finer then 40s
N.ot finer than 41r.
Carpet, i:.'lu -ir.
Conzur: tion, scoured
Wc- ek !y average-
Machinery activity: 2/
Worsted c--, rs
L' ..- broad
C-.rr t and ri-" looms
1: ~,Ag-t. : -Ac t.
: TOl : S9 :
O 1, : 1 : 1 -rt. 1, r,.) 0n
: r" :*- pounds :r vi n? rjcu-.'s pounds r:l.inds
: ?. :' nt
211, ? 'r
35,s61 11,645 6,--- 9,301
Percent Percent Percent
Import figures from official records of the u-re u of
Commerce. 7-'r.sv.rtion and --c'-in- r activity fi--r;sr
F?:r*-lin r i DLr: e-tic
from the -.:r.. u of the
,ight of _-r-: sy, scoured, and skin wool added together.
Firates for Air-st and Septeaber ~ 1 on 4 weeks, January to September on
weeks. No -.djuj-tment trade for holid- ',s.
6C L-2 3
Table 3.- Stocks of wool held by dealers, manufacturers and topmakers
in the. United States by class and origin, grease basis,
1934 to date
: to~__k.2 hI d Iy -
Date : : Mantfac-
:Dealers :turers and
"..... ..... : t or~t'akers_
: 1, sr 1,o'0
: nc'inds pounds
rri.n_...r in : wool,
T? O, ,
n : Total 2/ : fcr:!ir.
* i 1 ', '
ds ous r.ouds
-Is rCind S _______s
Bureau of Agrictttural Economics. Compil-d from Bure.an of
Wool Stock Rerorts.
These statistics are bc.liciv.d
thi Census Qu:irt-.rly
e: over 95 -ptrcent of
the total stocks held by and afloat to all dealt.rs, topmakers and manufacturers in
the. United States.
j Includes foreign wool afloat.
8/ In addition, the DIpartmtent of Agriculture estimates that stocks of old clip
wcols on farms and ranches and in local warehouses of the 13 western shop States
on sp-ecified datts wiere as follows: 1935, De.ct.mbtr 4,500,C'': 0 pounds; 1936, M.;irch
350,000 pounds; Dtictamber 1,800,000 pnnris; 1937, March 330,000 pounds; Doci-mbar
31,6Fr, C.'0, pPunds; 1938, March 22,500,000 pounds.
k Not available.
a These figures are apuroxinmtions obtained by converting scoured basis to grease
equTiv.il.nt. Stocks figures wvri not rieporti.d on a gri.asE. basis by the. Bureau f
the Consus until June. 1935. 51 Subjt.ct to revision.
- 11 -
WOOL-23 12 -
LIFJ %ER:RIT OF FLORIDA
S1111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 I II
3 1262 08861 5926
S .._ --r ..: .. :' -:1 ( -r s rc .i r .- mbi.-'r.) fr.m Ar' *ntiri and
'"r .i 1 :, s c- 7 7- 3
: T.._ _
S' .''. :.. 'i'- or. !i i:n n 'i. i' 'illi: -'i l o.
r: ound ou s s-lds 'UcL .-dS ';J :.ds
t d Ki.- ido : 75.) 72.6 20.1 21.1 -.3 9?.7
.c : 3 9.2 .o .7 3.4 75 .9
ly : 2...311.1 3:, 7.5 3;7. .
SiuL : 25.2 2..4 -.7 .7 -3.9 2:.1
. : 1.3 7.7 .. .7 7. 11.4
t St- : 7 5 2. 27.2 1.4 '5.7 2b.8
er -__ 2L.c ___ 0 12. 1 .7 35.5
o.0al : 3..7 27 .5 121.7 92.7 2-..4 3"9.2
Comjiid froa trzado re-orts supplied by the Buenos Aires Office of th; Bureau of
Agric' cultural Economics.
I/ Pr:-l ?ini.ary.
Th-':le 5.- r':.rts of wool (greasy, scoured, and washed conbin.-d) from
Australia, ; : Z-aoland -ndr the 'J:i:.. of South Africn, jL:r 1
t:. Ju.- 19:-37 --d 37- .
i ow Z-Ealz.d Toal
S : 7.. n: rica
: -l ---iL' -5 =1 6--.7:-.1'7-7.:'1: --7:1937-3,
'i i ... i1 L ziti i ili-.. '.illi:. L ui.'ir.,
United 'rri do:
:r u:ds r':.:ds ..d. nuda zs rf.d :r-' ds -'..' ids 9ourds
S .? 3*- L-.4 I 529.1
.2 r. i. 7.U ,. 97.5 9150.
..-. 32.0 .-. 2 43.. 14.1 20.2 133.2 195.8
7: 0.3 1 1.2 17.C / 2/ 4?.0 4 2.2
: i 9 -7.1 22.5 1'.5 9.0 6.5 1t2.4 123.1
'.4 70.. .2 5.P2 3 F.5 13.8 213.1 59.5
: 7 .7 .7 -'.2 34.4 4.2 114.3 9.4
s: 4.3 4 '. 11 .9 2:. 35.0 97.5 111.2
S 2 .? 77. 2 .1 21f.4 27.1 28 1,36-.1 1,257.1
Compiled from Wcol In:t ..llig.-:. .:t s, i n ltn.d.
Ij/ Ir.l'_lu-s option. ': .. :..::.-L Europe '.z.: "ilio. pi'u-s in' 93:-37 and
35.9 million in. 1"7-3t.
2/ If an;, i cludd K. "--.r. r : ".,.:.ri-s".
Cde s .-ry if
d e s i : .r i. : "