All of the major competing fibres have seen a sharp fall in the past six months. For synthetic fibres, this is due to a combination of excess capacity, falling oil prices and lower demand, notably in China. Acrylic fibres have seen the most significant falls and certainly more than the slide in polyester staple fibres. Viscose prices have also fallen sharply. Acrylic prices are down by 15% since October, polyester staple fibre prices are 7% lower and viscise prices have fallen by 12%. For cotton, prices have fallen back despite an expected decline in production this season. Poor quality for the cotton from the US (the world’s largest exporter) is weighing on prices as is the on-going impact of the US-China trade dispute. The Cotlook A index is down by 5% since October.
These declines in prices should be kept in mind with what has happened with wool prices over the past few months. Merino wool prices, particularly medium Merino prices (20-24 micron), have recovered after the decline in October and fine Crossbred wool prices have risen sharply in the past couple of months (the 28 micron indicator is up by 10% in US$ terms). As I reported in the Weekly Newsletter of 18th January, prices for broad Crossbred wool from New Zealand and the United Kingdom have remained flat at low levels since the decline seen in 2016 and 2017.
Further details including a chart showing the price trends for wool and the major competing fibres are contained in the full edition of the NCWSBA Weekly Newsletter of 1st February 2019, available to NCWSBA members.