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BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
WOOL, TERRITORY. SCOURED BASIS: AVERAGE
PRICES AT BOSTON. 1924-40
1924 '26 28 '30 '32 '34 '36 '38 '40
U S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NEG 196B4 BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL ECOhOMICS
DOMESTIC WOOL PRICES HAVE RISEN MODERATELY SINCE APRIL. THE ADVANCE
HAS REFLECTED LARGELY THE INCREASED MILL DEMAND FOR WOOL TO FILL GOVERN-
MENT CONTRACTS FOR MATERIALS FOR MILITARY USE. WITH IMPORTS OF WOOL ENTER-
ING THE UNITED STATES IN RELATIVELY LARGE QUANTITIES, PRICES OF WOOL IN THE
UNITED STATES DURING THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS WILL DEPEND TO A CONSIDERABLE
EXTENT ON THE PRICES PAID FOR IMPORTED WOOLS.
iUM O, FL LIE.
O LMEEjS TDEcP7
U ? DEPOSITORY
- 2 -
THE WOOL SITUATI ON
Increased buying of raw wool to fill Government contracts and an
improvement in mill sales of wool goods for civilian uses in the later
part of September were accompanied by price advances on most grades of
domestic wool at Boston. Mill consumption in the United States is expected
to continue at a relatively high level in the next several months and this
will be a strengthening influence on domestic wool prices.
With the opening of the 1940-41 season in South American wool markets
in late September relatively large quantities of ap-arel -rool are now be-
coming available to United States 'bu:'ers. Production in Souith America, how-
ever, is chiefly medium and coarse wools. Ec-,.use of the large use of the
finer grades of domestic wool in materials for Army use in the United States,
apnar::l wool import requirements in the current season ray be chiefly for
the finer grades. Australia and South Africa are the leading fine wool-
producing countries, although a considerable ouantit.- of fine wool is available
in South America. Hence, the quantities of Australin '-nd Souith African wool
releas,-d for export and the prices fixed for such wool, by the British Govern-
ment will be important factors affecting prices of fine wools in this country
in the next several months. It now seems probable that considerable ouan-
tities of Australian and South African wool will be available for export to
the United States.
Mill consumption of apparel wool in the United Stats in August con-
tinued the improvement which begaer. in Mr-y. The August rate of consumption
was 9 percent higher than in July and was slightly higher than in August last
year. Consumption on a sc-urd basis in the first S months of the year was
6 percent smaller thar. in the smo months last year.
United States imports of aprnarel wool for consumption totaled 118
million pounds in the first 8.months of .this year. The January-August im-
ports were much larger .than imports:f.or..the '.same months of any recent year,
except 1937 when 134 million pounds were imported.
The supply of wool in all positions in the United States.on September 1
is estimated at about 450 million pounds, grease basis. While the estimated
.supply is somewhat larger than stocks held at the same date a year earlier,
the supply is small in relation to.probable domestic consumption during the
next several months. It is expected that imports this fall and winter will
be larger than'a year earlier.
.. October 1 ,1940
REVIEW OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
Boston wool market
Sales of wool increased sharply in the Boston market in the latter
part of -September, and the increase .in sales was accompanied by price advances
on most grades of wool. The buying in September was partly to cover require-
ments for Government contracts but increased interest in foreign wools in-
dicated that buying was also stimulated by new business in goods for civilian
trade, according to reports of the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Boston quotations on graded fife combing (staple) territory wool aver-
aged 97 cents a pound, scoured basis, in the first week of October compared
with 90 cents a pound a month earlier and 111 cents a year earlier, when
prices were close to the highest level of the year. Quotations for combing
3/8 blood territory wool averaged 84 cents a pound, scoured basis, in the
first week of October and 78 cents a month earlier. Country packed lots-of
3/8 and 1/4 blood bright fleece wools sold at 42 cents a pound, grease basis,
early in October, this was an increase of 3 cents a pound over prices of early
September. In the first week of October 1939 similar wools of the 1939 clip
sold at 48 cents a pound, grease basis.
The United States average price of wool received by farmers was 28
cents a pound on September 15. It was 27.3 cents on August 15 and 24.3 cents
on September 15, 1939.
Apriarel wool imports continue large in August
Apparel wool imports for consumption 1/ totaled 9.9 million pounds.
in August compared with 9.8 million pounds in July and 4.6 million pounds
1/ Wool entered for immediate consumption plus wool withdrawn from bonded
warehouses for consumption.'
in August 1939. Imports in the first S months of this year, totaling 118
million pounds were more than twice as large as in the same period a year
earlier and were larger than imports for the same months of any recent year,
except 1937 when 134 million pounds were imported. Imports of carpet wool
in the first 8 months of this year totaled 94 million rounds compared with
97 million pounds in the same months of 1939 and a }-.,ear (1954-38) average
for those months of 82 million pounds.
Mill consumption increases further
Mill consumption of apparel wool in August continued the'improvement
which began in May. The weekly average rate of consumption for August was
9 percent greater than in July and was slightly greater than in August last
year. The increase in consumption from July to August this year was some-
what smaller than the average August increase in the 5 years 1935-39. But
mill consumption in July was 17 percent greater than in June, compared with
an average decline of 2 percent from June to July of the last 5 years. For
the first 8 months of 1940 mill consumption of annarel wool totaled 352.1
million pounds greasy shorn and greasy pulled. In the corresponding months
of 1939 consunmtion on a grease basis totaled 9q5.9 million pounds. Mill
consumption of carpet wool increased sharply in Aug ust but the August consump-
tion was much smaller than in August last year.
Government will order blankets
The United States Army will nopn bids on October 9 on 2 million wool
blankets. Proposals for bids specify that delivery is to be completed within
180 days after the awarding of contracts. Government specifications for Army
blankets call for the use of domestic fleece or pulled wools not lower in
grade than 56s to 60s inclusive. It is roughl:' estimated that slightly more
than 20 million pounds of grease wool will be r'.-iuircd for the blankets.
The new contracts when awarded will brini- Ar',' purchases of blankets
since June 1 to about 4 million.
Foreign wool markets active
The 1940-41 selling season opened in South American markets in late
September. United States buyers were- reported t-, be purchasing )0ol of all
.rades from the new clin in Urug;'ua. In Are-entin -, United States buyers
are reported to be contracting merino and fine crossbred wools of the new
clip for delivery in November, December and Janunry,. Prices on such contracts
in the latter nart of September were reoortcd t- be s: e'-hat lo-'er than cur-
rent prices for spot wools at Buenos Aires. Spot prices of South American
fine wools advanced sharply in September and the earl:. part of October.
Unsold stocks small in Uruguay
at end of 1939-4' season
Unsold stocks of wool in Uruguay in nid-Sentenber '7ere estimated at
about 7 million pounds, consisting of about 3 million pounds grading 50s
and finer, 500,000 pounds grading 44s to 50s and 3.5 million pounds of low
quality wools generally unsuitable for export to the United States. In
addition to such unsold stocks there remained about 12 to 14 million pounds
of v.;-l contracted for by European countries and awaiting shipment. While
somr. of thi v'ol "ras reported to be moving via Portugal and Sweden, the
British blo_:-.e of most countries of continental Europe makes shipment un-
cers.iL,. Such 170l0 might be available for resale if transportation to Eurone
Exports of wool from Uruguay in the first 11 months (October-August)
of the l19q9-40 season totaled 102 million pounds, compared with 123 million
pounds exported in the same months of the previous season and a 5-year
(1954-35 to 19.3-39) average for those months of 111 million pounds. The
United States took about one-third of Uruguay's wool exports in the 1939-40
season and vwas by far the largest single purchaser of wool in that country.
Exports for recent years b:; countries of destination are shown in table 4.
Argentine exports aA stocks, 1939-40 season
Stocks of wool in Argentina near the close of the 1939-40 season (late
September), totaled r.bout 55 million pounds according to commercial estimates.
The stocks consisted largely of wools grading 50s and finer (fine crossbred
and merino wools). Stocks of medium and coarse wools were relatively small.
About 20 million pounds of the total .remaining stocks were reported to be
wasty, inferior t;.--pcs of i7ol not generally suited to export to the United
States. The total also included wool sold to European countries and awaiting
shinoment. In view of the British' blockade, shipments to Europe are uncertain.
Eroorts of -wool from Argentina in the first 11 months (October-August)
of the 19q9-41-1 season totaled 292 million pounds, grease basis, compared with
exports of 368 million rounds in the same months of the previous season and
an average of j11 million pounds for those months in the 5 seasons 1934~35
through 1958-59. Exports by countries of destination are not yet available
for August. In the first 10 months of the 1939-40 season the United States
took about 11S million pounds of wool from Argentina, more than half of the
total Argentine e-oorts for those months. Exports to the United States from
Argentina iere much larger th.'n in any recent year. Exports from Argentina
by countries of destination are shown in table 4.
BACKGROUIrD.- Prices of wool in this country rose sharply following
the outbreak of the European war in September 1939. This rise was
brought about b;, the prospects for a strong war demand for wool in
certain foreign countries and the small stocks and relatively high
mill consumo-tion of raw wool in the United States. Imports of vool
'ere fairly large in late 1939 and early 1940. Mill consumption
was reduced after October 1939, and domestic wool prices declined
moderately durinz- the first half of 1940. However, wool prices
continued substantially higher than those prevailing before
Relativel'- laRge mill consumption e.Tected
Mill consumption of apparel wool in the United States is expected to
continue at a relatively high level in the next few months. New orders and
proposals for bids for wool fabrics and blankets iLaund by the United States
Army since August 28 are estimated to require a mill consumption of about 65
million pounds of grease wool. Contracts placed by the Army also were large
in June. Rough estimates indicated that about 50 million pounds of grease
wool would be necessary to fill the June orders. The sharp increase in
domestic mill consumption in July and August largely reflected the prepa-
ration of wool to fill Army orders.
Commercial reports indicate that mill sales of wool fabrics for
civilian wear increased sharply in September. Up to early Septeamber the
volume of mill orders for civilian requirements was considerably lower than
a year earlier, and it is likely that stocks of such goods in distributing
channels have been reduced in recent months. With such stocks reduced,
increased incomes of consumers and a larger volume of retail trade in the
final quarter of 1940 may stimulate nill activity for civilian wear.
Larger iroert s probable
S The- supply of wool in all positions in the United States on September
1 is estimated at about 450 million pounds, grease basis. This estimate in-
cludes all the wool now on hand in the United States, plus the unshorn por-
tion of the 1.940 clip. As stated in the September issue of the Wool Situation
current supplies of wool in the United States are somewh-at larger than a year
earlier but the supply is small in relation to probable domestic requirements
during the next few months. If mill consumption in the remainder of the
1940 season (to April 1, 1941) is to exceed that of a year o-.ulier by a sub-
stantial margin, as now appe.rs prob-.blc, and if stocks at the end of March
are to be fairly well naint-ine d a larger volume of imports of apparel wool
will be necessary than was imported in the same months of last year. In the
period October 1939 through March 1940 imports of apparel %iool totaled 103
Imports aay be chiefly fine grades
Boce:ise of the large use of th.e finer grades of domestic wool in
material. for Army use in the United States, apparel wool import require-
ments in the current season may be chiefly for the finer -rades. Amy orders
and inviti-tir.s for bids already announced ar.e estinmtedc to require the use
of about 95 million pounds, gr:-is, w:iht, of fine wool, ,r-..i.-. 56s, 58s, 60s
and"64s. QOnly a'out 20 r.illion pourlc of ~.:ools 4:r-ding 44s to 50s 're called
for in curre ~ contracts. Although 3S5 percent of the donectic production
of raw wool. is of -rades 56s and finer, the domestic production is not suf-
ficient to fill n.r~al mill requircrments for those grades. In the 3 years
1937-39 inport.s of wools gr-Ldi. r: finer than 56s averaged close to 50 million
pounds a year and constituted about one-half of the total imports of apparel
Australia and the Union of South Africa are the leading fine wool
producing countries, although a considerable quantity of fine wool is
available in South America. Hence the quantity of Australian and South
African wool released for export and the prices fixed for such wools by the
British Government will be important factors affecting prices of fine wools
in the United Statces in the ne::t several months. It now sees probable that
considerable quantities of Australian and South African wool will be avail-
able for ie ort to the United Stntes. With the opening of the .1940-41
season in South American wool nnrkets in late September relatively large
quantities of apparel wool are rnow becoming available to United States
buyers. Production in South America, however, is chiefly nodiun and course
Prices of Donmstic -nd South American Wools, 1936-40
For a :.liLbcr of years the Bureau of Agricultural Econonics used
conp-.risons of prices of vool 't Boston and London as a measure of changes
in the r clriornship between prices in domestic and foreign wool markets.
Since the coutbre1k: of the Europe.i'?n war in Septenber.1939, prices of wool at
London h.ve not been -v-'ilable. South American markets are now the only
import-iLt ones front which wool prices are available.
The accor'ipLnyir:g table shows prices of wools at Boston nd. at
Montcvrid:o aind the spread between those prices in the active selling seasons
at Montc'.ideo,? 159E-40. The prices are for wool in the grease. Because
the clami ocr zcoured :icld of foreign wools is generally greater than the
yield -f cor-crs:ondir.g grades of domestic wool these series are not on the
sa-e b-.Lis for donrestic and foreign wools. Their chief use is for a con-
parison of price changes in don.stic and foreign markets.
BecfuZc quotations for u-"l in South American markets are g.nci'rally
available onl:.-,- during the ?ctive selling season, there is also included
in the table a cries of .ricc: o-f Montevideo (Uruguayan) wool in bond,
at Boston frcn October ~936 through September 1940. Quotations for foreign
wool it Bost-n arc gn'iorall;,- nominal during part of each season because of
the sanll volu-.e o-f -ales :-f such wool.
Thc.c scrioe indicted th-t the changes in prices of domestic wool
and ch-anies in ,ricees of South .Aerican wool correspond rather closely,
although th:re ra- be- rather ~iide differences in spread between.prices over
short periods of tine. During the first 3 months of 1940 the spread was
reduced jidd inmorts decrcascd. In recent months, however, the spread had.
widened -i.nd imports have incrc-asei sonowhat.
Table 1.- Prices por pcund, grease basis, of donostic and Uruguayan
rnc-diu-m wn-'ol, nd sprcnad bctnwcn those prices, 1936-40
: At Boston
Spread : Domnstic : Uruguayn : Spread
3: /1 : / :
Cents Cents CeCcnts Cents
Month 0ev1 deoJ
- 9 -
Table I.- Prices per pound, grease bisis, of domestic and Uruguayr n
medium wools, nnd spread between these prices, 1936-40 Contd.
Uruagayann : Spread
Compiled. -* fc'lous: Prices of domestic wool at Boston from reports of the
Agricultu.--l iark!eting Service. Prices of Uruguayan (Montevideo) wool, in
bond, .t Boston front The Boston Commercial Bulletin. Prices at Montevideo from
Revista Semn-Ll, Cmaira Mercantel de Productos del Pais Montevideo. All
prices are rlont.hl, avern'es of weekly range quotations.
1/ AverCe of doLestic 3/8 and 1/4 blood combing, bright fleece wools.
2/ Urj., -r..'rman fine crossbreds, superior,
3/ Domestic 3/S blood combing, bright fleece wools.
4/ Montec.-id.;o 1 (56s) in bond (before payment of duty).
- 9 -
Table 2.-Prices of wool per pound in specified markets and prices of textile
raw materials in the United States, selected periods, 1938-40
Market and description
Boston market -
Territory, scoured basis-:
64s, 70s, 0s (fine)
56s (3/8 blood) combing
46s (low 1/4 blood) ....:
Bright fleece, greasy -
64s, 70s, 8Os (fine)
56s (3/S blood) combing
46s (low 1/4 blood) ....
Prices received by farmers,:
grease basis,15th of month:
Wool, territory fine
staple I/ .'............
Cotton, 7/7" Middling 2/ .:
Silk, Japanese 3/ ........:
Rayon yarn, 150 denier 4/
Rayon staple fiber 5/ -
Viscose 1-1/2 denier ....:
Acetate 5 denier ........
Southern Hemisphere ........
: 1939 1940
: 13 : 1938 19 : Aug._L SS2t. : Jui : Aug. : Sept.
: Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents
22.3 22.0 24.3 27.9
74.0 95.s 8s.4 89.0 92.4
8.9s .88 10.19 9.72 9.28 1
?64.1 299.3 254.0 252.9 256.1
51.0 51.5 53.0 53.0 53.0
25.0 25.0 25.0 25.0 25.0
46.0 46.0 43.0 43.0 43.0
'tween seasons current quotations
Compiled from reports of the Agricultural Marketing Service except as otherwise
1/ Scoured basis, Boston market.
/ Average at 10 markets.
SWhite, 13-15 denier, at New York, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
SDomestic yarn, first quality, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
/ F.o.b. producing plants, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- 10 -
- 11 -
Table 3.-United States: Wool imports, consumption and machinery activity,
selected periods, 193s-40
: Year Jan.-Aug.
: lo'a : lq-q : lic9 : i140 :
Imports for consumption, :
actual weight 1/:
Apparel ............. ..... 30,511
Finer than 40s ..........: 13,443
Not finer than 40s ......: 12,369
Carpet, including camels :
hair ....................: 71,90
Mill consumption 2/:
Grease basis 3/ -
Carpet .................. 92,736
Scoured basis -
Apparel ............... :21,565
Carpet ................. 64,345
Weekly average -
Apparel ................: 4,143
Carpet .................: 1,225
Machinery activity 2/:
Hours operated per machine:
in place -
Worsted combs ...........: 39.8
Worsted-spindles ........: 26.9
Woolen spindles .........: 30.6
Woolen and worsted looms-:
Broad ..................: 28.1
Narrow .................: 10.5
Carpet and rug looms -
Broad ..................: 23.4
Narrow .................: 15.9
144,?74 96,906 94,151
293-,033 155,279 174,339
103,421 66,397 60,199
1, 9 7
Aug. : July : Aug.
1939 : 1940 : 1940
1,000 1,000 1,000
pounds pounds pounds
Weekly average in hours
39.4 34.2 39.7
11.1 12.9 12.3
35.0 35.3 37.6
22.0 20.4 21.3
Import figures from the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. Consumption and
machinery activity from the Bureau of the Census.
1/ Weight of greasy, scoured, and skin wool added together.
j/ Figures for August based on 4 weeks, July on 5 weeks, eJnuary-August on
35 weeks. 1933 figures for 53 weeks ended December 31. No adjustments made for
3/ Total of shorn and pulled wool. Pulled wool, grease basis,.is.in condition
received from pulleries and is mostly washed.
I_ 1__ _Ij_ I
UNIVERSITY OF FLOOR
111111111 II lIII I I NI 11
3 1262 08861 59
United Kingdom :
Italy .......... :
Table 4.- '.'ool exports from Argentina and Uruguay in the
IDA 1939-40 exoort season, v.'ith comparisons
SArsgent i nj : Uruguay
Oct .-July Oct #-:Aug.
(Oct.-Sept.) : O.-uly : (Oct.-Sept.) Ot-Aug
:Average: :: average :
:1934-Z5: : : :1934-35:: :
: to .1933-5 1939-79.199?-4C. to : 1928-39 .1938-59.1939-40
:1938-39: : : /' :1938-59: _:: 1/
: I.li 1iil. I.Li Mil. biil. i.;i I'lil. Mil.
: lb. lb. b. lb. lb. Ib. lb. Ib.
Total .....:308.0 357.3 332.1 257.9 115.1
128.0 123.0 101.9
Compiled from Co.nmercial reports supplied ty, tne Buenos Aires Office of Foreign
2/ Argentine fiIgures include small oquantties shipped to Canada.
3- If any, included with "other".
Table 5.- Union of Scuth Africa: 'Jcol exports by principal countries
of destination, av rage 1'.4-S3, ann'zal 1997-29
j~rj3 bF~r-innini J'.:lv
:Av rage :
United States ........
United Kingdom .......
Germlany. ............... :
Italy ................. :
Japan ................ :
Other countries ......:
Total ........,...: 230,633
218,452 240,884 191,250
Compiled from South Africa Crops and Markets.
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