IT;ITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Bureau of Agricultural Economics
Was hingt on
U ----------------------------------- February 10, -Lv,
NIV OF FL LIB
SDOC fMTE DEPT HE W OOL SITUATION
.).. $I .-- i cr wool in this country for the 1939 season, which
begins about April 1, is more favorable than at the beginning of the 1938
season. Domestic stocks of wool on December 31 were smaller than a year
earlier. Since consumption for the first quarter of 1939 will be much larger
than in the corresponding period of last year, the carry-'ver of wool into
the new season will be considerably smaller than in 1938.
Domestic mill consumption of apparel wool in November and December
was higher than at any time since Mlarch 1937. Because of the low rate of
consumption in the early months of i93:, however, consumption on a scoured
basis for the ,ear was about 13 percent smaller than in 1937 and was below
the 1932-36 average. With prospects of an improvement in consumer demand,
it is probable that. mill consumption for the entire year 1939 will be some-
what larger than in 19.7.
The higher rate of mill consumption and the reduction in supplies of
wcool in the United States will be strengthening factors in domestic wool
prices in 1939. But the spread between domestic and foreign wool prices has
widened considerably in recent months as a result of the rise in prices of
domestic wc:l and declines in foreign prices in terms of United States dol-
lars. Unless there is some increase in foreign prices, domestic wool prices
cannot advance greatly without attracting larger imports of wool.
United States imports of apparel wool for soncumption totaled 31
million pounds in 1938 compared with 150 million pounds in 1937 and a yearly
*n-.,_ ,.. ^r\ ~ n'zn
WOOL-26 2 -
av:ra.,e of 52 million pounds for the 1932-36 period.
Exprrts of wool from Southern ::er. sphere countries through December
31 of the current season were much larger than a year earlier and also ex-
ceeded the 5-year average for the same months. On January 1, apparent sup-
plies for disposals in the five principal expi:rting countries of the S3eithern
Hemisphere were 8 percent smaller than a y--ar earlier and 3 percent smaller
than the January 1 average supplies in the 5 years, 193.-57.
irni~cations are that stocks in most foreign importing countries,
except Japan, were somewhat larger this January 1 than last.
RECENT DEVEL(F' E::1'S IE E"'i'CZTIC SIT .Jp.TION
Barc-'~r r...- As a result of large imports and reduced mill
consumption in -'37, the 1938 domestic wool marketing season
opened in April with a much larger carry-over of wool than in the
previous season. The average farm price of wool at the opening
of the 1'-:8 season was about 45 percent lower than in April 1937.
Developments in the current season have been in sharp contrast to
those of a year earlier. After reaching a low point in April 1i38
domestic mill consumption increased rapidly, imports remained
small and stocks of raw wool were reduced. Domestic wool prices
have advanced moderately since the early summer of 1938.
'0ol consumption and prices also declined in foreign
countries in 1?77 and the early months of 1 IR, but the declines
were not so great as in the United States. Consumption has in-
creased in some Europ:j-r. countries in recent months but there
has been little recovery in foreign wool prices in this period.
Domestic mill c:rr.irumtion and imports of apparel wool by
months from 1..9. to date are shown in figure 1 at the end of this
report. F_: ,re 2 shows ei,-r..s in farm prices, production and
mill consumption for the years since 1''27.
Wool sales and prices
,Vc;ol sales increased in the Boston market in January and prices of
many grades advanced. Original bag fine territory wools sold at 69-70 cents
a pound, scoured basis, for good French combing length the last week of Janu-
ary compared with 66-68 cents a month earlier. Quotations on most graded
territory wools at the end of January were 2-3 cents a pound higher than a
Trading in fleece wools was less active than in territory wools and
fleece wool prices did not change materially. Fine delaine bright fleece
wools sold late in January at 28-31 cents a pound, grease basis, and 3/8
blood combing fleeces at 31-32 cents, unchanged from a month earlier.
Quarter-blood combing length, bright fleece wools were quoted at 31-32 cents,
an advance of a cent a pound from late December prices.
The United States average price of wool received by farmers on January
15 was 20 cents a pound compared with 20.2 cents on December 15 and 21.6
cents on January 15, 1938.
Stocks of apparel wool held by United States dealers and manufacturers
(exclusive of wool afloat) totaled 230 million pounds, grease basis, on
December 31, according to reports to the Bureau of the Census. In addition,
the Department of Agriculture estimates that there were about 13 million
pounds of domestic shorn wool on ranches and farms and in local county ware-
houses in the 13 western sheep States, making a total of 243 million pounds.
While the total stocks were 27 million pounds smaller than on December 31,
1937, they were larger than stocks reported at the end of 1935 and 1936.
Stocks of apparel wool on hand, end of December 1937 and 1938
(million pounds, grease basis)
Item : 1937 1938
Stocks reported in hands of dealers and
manufacturers ......................: 239 238
Stocks of foreign wool afloat 1/ ............:
Stocks held on farms and ranches and in local:
warehouses in 13 Western Sheep States..:
Stocks available end of December ............
Decline from previous year ...........
/ Although stocks of foreign wool reported afloat are a part of the existing
supply they are included in imports at a later date. Because of this they
have been deducted from the reported figures on stocks.
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The decline in stocks in 1938 which is indicated by these figures
differs somewhat from the charge indicated by available figures on supply
and c-ns'u.ption for ]?.. If production and general imports for 1938 are
added together, and if mill consumption of wool for the year is deducted
from this fig.ire, the result should be about equal to the change in stocks.
As shown in the following table, such an estimate indicates a smaller de-
cline in stocks on December 31, 1938 compared with a year earlier than is
indicated by figures on reported stocks,
.Vc:l production, imports and mill consumption, United States, 1938
: Mil. lb.
Domestic production, shorn and pulled ............: 47Prel.)
General imports, mostly greasy Y/ ................: 23
Total new supply ........ .. .............
Mill consumption, grease basis 2/ .............: 470;
Difference indicates c-ipnge in stocks Dec. 31,
1938 compared with 1937 ....................... -9
Imports from the F ,re:1 F-r -ign -n:d [-r'-st i. r-.r:._.
1/ General imports include wool entered for immediate consumption
and entries into bonded warehouses.
2/ B-jreau cf the Census figures adjusted to calendar year basis.
More than 50 million pounds of domestic wool stocks held on December
31 were covered by Federal Government wool loans which were made available
beginning April 15, 1;,.1. It.e Commodity Credit Corporation reports that
thrc- L7-'..r'.r 30 loans had been made on 77 million pounds of grease wool.
To the same date about 21 million pounds of this quantity had been released
by repayr.r.t of loans.
Stocks reported by dealers and manufacturers on December 31, 1938, with
comparisons, are shown on a scoured equivalent basis in the accompanying
table. These fi.-ur-s include wo l afloat and in bonded warehouses but they
do not include wool held on farms and ranches and in local warehouses in
- 5 -
Stocks of raw wool, top and noil held by dealers, topmakers and
manufacturers in the United States, scoured basis, December
31, 1938, with comparisons
Dec. 31 I/ Sept. 24 1/ Dec. 31
: 1,000 1,000 1,000
S pounds pouns pounds
Apparel wool, total .....: 118,115 147,597 115,389
Dealers *................: 71,816 87,190 65,115
Domestic *......... : 62,243 77,641 51,928
Foreign on hand .......: 9,221 8,584 10,497
Foreign afloat .........: 352 965 2,690
Manufacturers & topmakers: 46,299 60,407 50,274
Domestic ..............: 30.339 46,966 37,564
Foreign on hand .......: 15,448 12,738 10,024
Foreign afloat ........: 512 703 2,686
Carpet wool, total .......: 44,641 26,782 28,070
Dealers ............... : 3,592 3,087 3,641
Manufacturers ...........; 41,049 23,695 24,429
Tops ...................... 30,053 26,448 23,527
Noils ....................: 10,279 8,857 9,311
Compiled 2rom Burceau of the Census Quarterly Wool Stock Report, December
As a result of relatively largo supplies and low prices of domestic
wool, United States imports of apparel wool were very small in the early
months of 1938. The rapid reduction-in domestic stocks and the advance in
domestic prices in the latter part of the year was accomparicd by a slight
increase in imports, but imports for ccnsu-ptfion for the entire year 1938
were only 31 million pounds comlrar-d with 150 million pounds in 1937 and
a yearly average of 52 million pounds from 1932-36.
Imports of carpet wool for consumption were 72 million pounds in
1938, a decline of 100 million pounds compared with 1937 imports. Imports
increased rapidly as consumption expanded in the last half of 1938 but
total imports for the year were the s..allost for any recent year except
Consumption of apparel wool by domestic nills continued larCe in
December. The weekly rate of 5,938,000 pounds, scoured basis, was slightly
higher than that of November and was more than twice that of December 1937.
The rate of consumption in L:ovember and December was the highest reported
since aiarch 1937. Because of the low rate of consumption in the early months
of the year, the weekly average consumption on a scoured basis in 1938
was 13 percent smaller than in 1937.
. 6. -
The Bureau of the Census reports that mill consumption of apparel
wool on a grease basis for the reporting year 1938'(53 weeks ended December
31) was equivalent to .406 million,pounds of shorn wool and 68 million pounds
of pulled wool.
Mill sales of men's wear fabrics-continued small in January largely
as a result of seasonal factors. Sales of women's wear fabrics increased in
the latter part of the month. Becauso.-of the large orders placed with mills
in the final quarter 6f 1938 unfilled'orders for wool fabrics at the
be.iinnin: of 1939 were estimated to be almost twice as large as a year ear-
lier when orders were small.
DOMESTIC OUTLOOK -.
The outlook for wool in the United States for'the 1939 season, which
begins about April 1, is more favorable than at-the beginnings of the 1938
season. The large supplies of wool available for the current season have
beenmaterially r,-uced as a result of the high-rate of mill consumption in
recent months. Reported stocks of wool on Decomber 31 were smaller than a
year-earlier. Since consumption for the first quarter of 1939 will be much
larger than a year earlier, the carry-over of wool -into the 1939 season
probably will be considerably smaller than in.1938...
'Lhile mill consumption has been large in.the last .few months, consump-
tion.had declined to.a very low level in the latter ::art of 1937 and early
months of 1938, and stocks of semi-manufactures and m-nufactured goods in
distributing channels were greatly reduced. Consumption for the year'1938
was more than 10 percent smaller than in 1937 and was slightly below the
1932-36 average Prospects are for an improvement in consumer,demand in 1939,
and some building up of inventories of manufactured -oods appears likely.
It is prob-.:blo, therefore, that mill consumption for the entire year 1939 will
be somewhat larger than in 193,
In the early months of 1938 the spread between Boston and London prices
of somewhat comparable grades of wool was relatively narrow and imports of
wool into the United States wore small. Domestic wool prices advanced
moderately after the early summer of 1938 while foreign prices in terms of
United 3S. tes dollars declined. This has resulted in a considerable widening
of the spread between Boston and London prices.
The hiher rate of mill consumption and the reduction in supplies of
wool in the Ur.ited States will be strengthening factors in domestic wool
prices in the first half of 1939. But unless there is some increase in
forcii-r prices in terms of 'JU:itcd States dollars, domestic prices cannot ad-
vance greatly without attracting larirr imports of wool.
Wool prices at the first series of 1939 London sales which opened
January 17 wore generally 5 to 10 percent lower than at the close of the
previous series Decemrber 7. The decline in prices of crossbrc-ds was grcator
than the decline in merino prices. withdrawals were rather large in the
early ..-: of the series but sales improved after the opening week.
The decline in wool prices at London in January reduced prices of
merino wools in United States dollars, to the lowest point since 1933, with
the possible exception of a short period in the spring of !935. Prices of
70s averaged 37 cents a pound, scoured basis in January compared with 38.4
cents in December and 32.6 cents in May 1933. Prices of medium grades of wool
at London in January remained somewhat above the low prices reported in the
spring of 1935.
Southern Hemisphere sales
Wool prices ;:.ere somewhat irregular at the Australian sales in January
and declines were reported from some centers. As a result of large sales to
the United Kir-gdom and Continental Europe prices in Australia had been re-
latively firm since the sales opened in Se-tember. Disposals of wool in
Australia from July through December 1938 were 16 percent larger than a year
earlier but were slightly smaller than average disposals for those months in
the 5 years 1932-36.
The price of Australian 70s warp wool at the Sydney sales averaged
44.4 cents a pound clear bsis, delivered Bradford, in Decembr, the same
average.reported for the first month of the current auction season. Such
wool av:rair~d 57.8 cents a pound in December 1937.
The average price of 70s warp wool at South African selling centers
in December was 42 cents a p,'.ini, clean cost, compared with 44.4 cents a
pound in IIo'-.mber and 52.6 cents in December 1937. A further decline in
prices was reported in the early part of January.
Prices did not chanDge materially in South American markets in December
and the early part of January. Sales of low crossbred wools to United States
carpet mills were large in December.
Supplies in Southern Hemisphere January 1
On January 1, apparent supplies V/ for disposal in the five principal
Southern Hemisphere wool exporting countries during the remainder of the
1938-39 selling season were estimated to be about 8 percent smaller than a
year earlier and 3 percent smaller than the average supplis'3 as of January 1
in the 5 years 1933-37. At the beginnirng of the current season total supplies
available for the season (carry-over plus production) were estimated to be 3
percent larger than those of the previous season and about the same as the
5 year -weiage.
Approximately 35 percent of estimated available supplies for the
1938-39 season had been shipped by the end of December compared with an
average of 33 percent for the years 1932-36. Last season little more than
one-fourth of available supplies had been shipped by that date.
1/ Carr-y-over from preceding season plus estimated production minus exports
from begin-ii- of season to December 31. The quantities sold but not yet ex-
por-ed and the quantity entering into domestic cornLumption has not been taken
into account in this computation.
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- 8 -
Exports of wool from Australia, the Union of South Africa and New
Zealand in the first 6 months (July through December) of the current season
were 23 percent larger than a year earlier and 3 percent larger than average
eP.orts for those months in the 5 years 1932-36. Exports from Argentina and
Uruguay from October through December, the first 3 months of the South American
export season were almost three times as large as in the same mciuths of the
previous year and were 20 percent larger than the 5 year average.
Exports from the Southern HI.misph-re to the United Kingdom, France,
Japan and the United States so far this season have been much larger than in
the previous season.
Wool exports from 5 Southern Hemisph-:re countries to December 31
of the 193g-39 season, with comparisons
C: : Average
Country : Period :1932-36
: :Mi p iond
Australia 2/ ................
Union of South Africa 3/. ....
New Zealand 2/..................:
Total 3 countries..........
Arg~; trina 4/. ............... .
Uraguay / ......................:.
Total 2 countries.........:
1936 1937 1935
Million Million Mi'lion
pounds pounds pounds
- Dec.: 453.5 451.3
: 111.6 103.3
5" 58. _5
-Dec. : 68.4 76.9
: 5- 40.0
: 104.1 116.9
j/ Preliminary. 2/ EZsiy.tes of Dalgety & Co. 3/ Official estimates.
4/ Commercial estimates supplied by the Buenos Aires office of the Bureau.
Suinplics and activity in io cr-i;^ countries
Information on wool imports and manufacturing activity indicates that
stocks of raw wool in 3.iro- .. -. countries were somewhat larger at the beginning
of 1939 than a year earlier. Retained imports of wool in the United Kingdom
were 614 mil-ion rour.is in 1933 compared with 552 million poa.).; :s in 1937 and
a yearly v_ .-.;rj of "57 million from 1932 to 1936. While imports of raw wool
.ere relatively large, exports of semi-manufactures and finished wool products
from the lUnited Ki.'-Jom declined sharply in 1938 and wore smaller than in any
.-.-r since 1931 or 1932. Durin- the greater .rt of 1938 aiill activity in the
United K'ing'dc. was much lo'e.r tl.an in 1937 Wut some imr;-ovoment was reported
in the final quarter of the year.
Activity in Fr'-rc.n. mi.1s has increased since MI. 1935 and exports of
wool yarns and tissues have been much larger than in 193l u-id 1937. The in-
crease in activity has been accomra-nied by a material increase in imports of
raw wool into F"--.ce. I-. c .ts of raw w:ool into Germany were I'-rger in 1938
than in 1937 and also were larger than the 5-year .-vIrrFc-. Imrorts into Belg~um
WOOL-26 9 -
and Italy in the first 10 months of 1938 were smaller thin in 1937 and machin-
ery activity has been relatively low in those countries.
Stocks of ral- wool in Japanese warEhous-s- at the end of September 1938
were less than half as large as on that date in 1936 and 1937 according to
statistics published in "We;l Intelligence Notes", EL ld.
A recent issue of the weekly report of the German Institute for Business
Research gives certain information and statistics relative to the production of
staple fiber in several countries and total world production of spinning mate-
rials. Staple fiber is obtained by cutting rayan filaments into regular lengths
after which it may be spun on cotton or worsted spindles. It possesses the
advantages of bE:ing uniform in staple length and fineness and is well adapted
for mixtures with cotton and wool.
Production of Staple Fiber in specified countries, 1933-37
Country 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937
: 1,000 i 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,00
: lb. Pet. lb. Pet. lb. Pct. lb. Pct.lb. Pct.
Germany.. ..... : 8,750
Great Britain..: 2,440
United States..:' 2,100
France ......... 2,220
Io rway.........: --
Total...... : 27,895
-- --- -- 500
20 -- 110
1oo 51,835 1oo 139,340 100 298,060 100 622,920 100
Rayon OrgF!-no;, June 1938.
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7.:rld apparel T-Xtile Production 1937
Product 1,D,0O lb.
Artificial silk .. ........: 1,1F5, 2CO
Staple fiber ............... 622,920
Total ............. 1,80 ,710
Cotton .................. .: 1 31,' ,000
T col (washed) ...............: 2,2 3,000
Flax .......................: 1,642,C C-
Total.............. 22,273, 0
Weekly report German Institute for Business Research, November
Measured by world production of all '- t-iles the present production
of s'rrl- fiber is not of *-r.t importance. Production in 1937 was estimated
to account for less than 3 : .'- :-t of the world production of textile fibers
suited to apparel production. The production of staple fiber intended for
mixture with wool, or for use instead of wool is estimated to form less than
25 percent of present staple fiber production or about 150 million pounds.
This compares with a world wool production of about 2,250 zillion pounds,
The production of staple fiber has increased rapidly in the last few
years however, and in 1937 amounted to one-third of world total rayon pro-
duction. :Th increase is due chiefly to the sharp increase in production
in 37-re-.:., Japan and Italy. T'h..es c-untries are endeavoring to obtain a
high degree of self sufficiency in raw textile material supplies because of
the difficulty of fin!:-cii-_ imports. In Germany and Japan the mixture of
star-l? fiber with natural fibers in goods for home consumpticr. is now en-
forc-d by official decree,
?r.: ;ctic.. of staple fiber has also increased in G-r.at Britain, the
United States and other pr.oducirg countries in the last few years, although
production in those countries is as yet of minor importance. Because of
its recent development it is difficult at present to say what the future
possibilities of staple fiber are with relation to other textile materials.
Table 1.- Prices cr wv, l per pound in specified markets and prices of
textile raw materials in the United States, selected periods,
Market and description
Territory co mbr:i-, scoured
basis 64s, 70s, 80s (fine)
56s (3/8 blood)
46s (low 1/4 blood)
Farm price, 15th of month,
Average quality, clean cost 2/
Average price at clling
centers, grease wool' 4/
Sydney (delivered r'-idford)
70 warp, clean basis 5/
Union of South Africa:
Average export price greasy
Price at selling centers, 70s
warp, clean cost 8/
Coarse crossbred, greasy Irn/
Crossbred, greasy 13/
Wool,territory fine staple
Cotton, 7/8 1:iddi/r.g 16/
Silk, Japanese 13-15 17/
Ry'-n yarn, 150 denier 18/
: I':.s Fr l1.:
C-n rt S
Jan. : I .
21.6 20.5 20.2 20.0
Ave rag : 1938
46.8 42.7 42.8 42.9
33.3 29.1 29.2 26.3
21.1 17.1 17.1
52.6 45.2 44.4
19.6 17.5 17.3
51.1 44.4 42.0
17.7 13.8 13.2
21.4 18.3 18.0
18.7 16.0 15.8
- 11 -
: Cec.t : C-n-
Cer.ts C t:-
- 12 -
r'ble 1.- Prices of wool per pound in specified markets and prices of
textile raw materials in the United States, selected periods,
Foreign prices have been converted at prevailing rates of exchange,
Yearly averages are averages of monthly prices except United States farm price
1937 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
2/ Top and noil in oil.
_/ Quotations reported about the 25th of the month by the London office of
4/ P?-crts of the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers.
/ Monthly averages of weekly quotations from the ",c:l Record and Textile
6/ 8-month average. No quotations May to August.
7/ 9-month average. No quotations June to August.
/ South African Ministry for Agriculture.
9/ 10-month average. No quotations July and August.
T0/ Wools of South and Southeast Buenos Aires Province. Revista Quincenal de
r,-'ios Salaberry Bercetche & Cia.
11/ 4-month average. No quotations April to November.
1T/ 11-month average. No quotations for October.
13/ Boletin de Hacienda, Uruguay.
~1/ 6-month average. No quotations May to October.
-5/ Scoured basis at Boston.
T5/ Average at 10 markets,
7T/ 78 percent white at New York Bureau of Labor Statistics.
IT/ Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Table 2.- United States: Wool imports, consumption and machinery
activity, specified periods, 1936-38
: : 1938
: 1936 : 1937 :
1938 : .
1,00" 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000
pounds pounds pounds pounds pounds
Imports for consumption,
actual weight: I/
Finer than 40s
Not finer than 40s
4,772 4,143 2,606
2,023 1,225 714
3,189 11,963 13,649
10,424 23,512 29,688
2,856 7,716 9,501
:Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent
Machinery activity: 2/
(40-hour shift)- 3/
Carpet and rug looms
Imp-ort figures from official records of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic
Con~erco, Consumption and Machinery Activity from the Bureau of the Census.
l/ Weight of greasy, scoured and skin wool added together.
2/ Figures for December 1937 and November 1938 based on 4 weeks December
1938 on 5 weeks. 1936 and 1937 totals based on 52 weeks, 1938 totals on
53 weeks. No adjustment made for holidays.
3/ Percent of maximum si;:;1o shift operated. Maximum single shift equals
machinery in place for operation times 40 hours :'r week.
I- Z 0
w- 0 Z
0A J -
u t- O
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 08861 5934
WOOL: FARM PRICE, PRODUCTION, AND MILL CONSUMPTION.
UNITED STATES. 1927 TO DATE
I ILLI0JNSI MILL
700 -- -
I MILLID N I
1927 '28 '29 '30 '31 '32 '33 '34 '35 '36 37 '38
*SHORNAND PULLED A APPAREL CLASS. GREASE BASIS PRELIMINARY
U S DEPARTMENTOF AGRICULTURE
NEG 31088 BREAUOF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
FIGURE 2.- THE RAPID DECLINE IN WOOL PRICES IN 1937
AND THE EARLY MONTHS OF 1938 WAS CHIEFLY THE RESULT OF
THE DECLINE IN MILL CONSUMPTION AND THE ACCUMULATION OF
STOCKS OF RAW WOOL IN THE UNITED STATES AND FOREIGN
COUNTRIES. AN INCREASE IN DOMESTIC CONSUMPTION IN THE
SECOND HALF OF 1938 HAS BEEN ACCOMPANIED BY A MODERATE
INCREASE IN PRICES.