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REVIEW OF THE WOOL TRADE OF NEW-YORK,
FOR THE YEAR 1886.
In our last annual review we expressed the opinion that an improvement in business and an advance in price were probable in 1886. Both events came off. The prospects of the early winter were so good that large orders were sent out for foreign fine wools, of which the importations up to July 1st amounted to 41,000,000 pounds, against 11,500,000 pounds the previous year. But the greater part of this large importation came upon the market in the spring and proved too much for it, especially as the great decline of the previous autumn in Europe permitted yarn spinners there to make goods so cheaply that large amounts were sent to this country. A sharp drop in wool consequently took place here, culminating in May, when fine Ohio and Port Philip sold at 30c., and Montevideo at 24c. At this juncture the Antwerp sales opened at prices sufficiently low to attract speculative attention, followed by much excitement and an advance of about 40 per cent. A like movement took place in the London June sales. The activity thus started continued in the subsequent sales in both these markets, but without any farther material advance. This extraordinary rise, however, led to large exports of foreign clothing wool from here, and a rapid advance in the price of both foreign and domestic grades. The home clip quickly changed hands, advancing about five cents per pound from the opening, and large orders for goods were taken at profitable prices. This improvement culminated in October, when Obio fine wool sold at 380. The advance was too rapid and a decline set in on both sides of the water, so that the year closed no better either in price or demand, as compared to the previous one, and a good deal of the advance in goods and wool was lost.
The stock of clothing wool at the close of the year turned out much larger than was generally expected. This was the mor prising as consumption had much increased, and the domestic clip was known to be some seven million pounds smaller. An explanation is, however, to be found in the reported sales in the Boston and Philadelphia markets, which were some 32,000,000 pounds smaller in 1886 than in 1885. In fact consumers of fine wool imported, in yarns and wool and waste, fully fifty million pounds, and by so much diminished the consumption of domestic wool. This feature is becoming a marked one in the trade, and it is teaching the wool grower that protection does not protect.
The goods market has not been entirely satisfactory. Manufacturers have not been able to obtain an advance corresponding to the advanced cost of the raw material, owing to competition among themselves and with the large importations of goods and yarns. Nor has the distribution of woolens been quite up to legitimate expectations. Worsted goods particularly have suffered by an nnjust discrimination in the tariff against them. They have, however, the promise of some amelioration in the decision of the law officer of the Government, that tops are entitled to entry at the same duty as scoured wool. This ruling will benefit the manufacturer at the expense of the wool grower, as tops will be cheaper to import than the raw wool, and in the present temper of Congress this decision will not likely be interfered with.
The future course of the market is more difficult to estimate than usual. “Too many woolen goods made,” is an expression as common as it is true. But while there is no such thing as too many coats so long as there is a back uncovered, there is such a thing as too many coats at too high a cost as compared to the rewards of labor in other fields. It is fairly contended that the products of wool are too dear, in comparision with the price of other manufactures, and of grain, cotton and other produce. It is, at all events, patent that the business in wool and woolens bas for some time been unsatisfactory, even when other things have been doing well. It cannot be called a healthy or a robust trade. The truth seems to be that the tariff has stimulated high-cost production beyond the capacity of bome consumption. A like condition of things may be the foundation of discontent in other departments, and the strikes and lock-outs of the past year, which have undoubtedly diminished consumption, are a phase of the same difficulty. A high tariff confessedly enhances the cost of living and disorganizes the machinery of distribution. Is not this our trouble? If war taxes absorb the earnings of the people for absolute necessities, their expenditure for clothing must naturally be diminished.
It follows from all this, that with the present ample supplies and with the facilities lately so greatly developed of importing quickly what is needed, the future price of wool more than usually depends upon the general trade of the country as affecting woolen goods. There is every reason to hope that this may be extraordinarily good in 1887, however much present appearances and the unsettling effect of a prospective European war may seem against it. Wool values here will more than usually depend upon those of Europe, and these seem likely to maintain their present moderate level. In a word, the coming year has no feature upon which to base either sanguine or gloomy views. A fairly steady business is all we can reasonably expect.
Domestic wools were dull and dragging until clip time, when the causes above alluded to caused considerable excitement in the country and in the markets of the East. An advance of about five cents per pound was obtained in the better wools, but was partially lost before the end of the year, and Ohio XX. closed at 35 cents, or about the same as the year before. There was an active demand for low combing wools at a ten per cent. advance, which has been maintained, and English wools were largely imported to supply the deficiencies of domestic. The tendency continues in favor of these wools, and large orders for cross breds have been sent out.
In the finer wools of Australia not much interest has been manifested, as the larger manufacturers have continued to supply them
selves either in Melbourne or London. Prices in the open market have not, in consequence, been satisfactory, and the losses made have deterred any considerable operations in Australia this year. Direct importations will not exceed 12,000 bales. An average Port Philip wool is quoted at 35 cents at the close, with a stock of 2,500 bales.
Montevideo wools were cleared largely for export during the summer when prices reached 15 cents in bond. A moderate home demand has since advanced them to 30 cents, duty paid, at whichi they close, with a stock of about 1,000 bales and an expected importation of 2,000 the coming season.
There is no market here for Cape or Buenos Ayres wools, owing to their high cost, duty paid. Our moderate supply of these kinds has ruled at about 15 cents in bond for Canada.
Carpet wools remained dull and steady during the first half of the year. Later, in sympathy with fine wools, an active demand set in and an advance of 10 to 15 per cent. was obtained. Trade continued satisfactory until December, when a flat market and lower prices intervened, owing to a severe cut in the price of carpets. The familiar spectre of over-production made its appearance, Prices at the close do not vary much from the opening, excepting in Donskoi wools, which are 10 per cent. dearer, the higher duty having been assessed on this year's importations, as to which the Government has again opened the scoured question ; pending a decision most of the wools remain in warehouse.
On page 153 will be found a statement of the imports of wool at the port of New-York for the past twenty years ending June 30, compared with the imports at other leading ports of the United States for the same period.
REVIEW OF THE WINE AND SPIRIT TRADE OF NEW-YORK,
FOR THE YEAR 1886.
The year 1886 was, on the whole, the best for general business that the country has seen since 1880, and the best tone and feeling in all markets, with the exception of the whisky market, were shown at the close of the year. The reasons for this exception will be given further along in this review.
The business in imported wines and spirits shows, on the whole, a slight increase over that of 1885. The details of the different branches will be found in their proper place. The European vintages generally were small in quantity and very good in quality. The California wine interest introduced a bill during the long session of Congress to provide for freeing from tax grape-spirit, used in the fortification of wine. The bill passed the Senate in the shape of an amendment to the fractional gallon bill, but failed to get through the House. It is now in the hands of a conference committee. General business was somewhat depressed at times during the year by labor troubles, and the wine and spirit trade undoubtedly shared this depression with other businesses. The trade in export alcohol during the year has been almost nothing, owing to the fact that under their pooling arrangements the northwestern distillers were able to force their entire production on the home market. Even if this had not been the case, it is doubtful whether, under our present tariff arrangements with spirit consuming countries, they could have met the competition of European distillers. At the beginning of the year the Bourbon whisky market generally looked strong and bright; there was a confidence that the season's production of whisky would be moderate, and dealers began to feel much confidence in the future. But in February the E. H. TAYLOR, Jr., Company, of Frankfort, Kentucky, began issuing a series of circulars, predicting a large over-production for the season of 1886, and on examination it was found that their fears were well founded. In consequence the demand from the trade fell off rapidly, and business remained at a standstill until the end of the season. In July and August there was a sharp advance in prices, which was well held until October, when they commenced to droop, and up to this writing the market has not recovered its tone. The advance in these whiskies is probably to be ascribed to the fact that at the expiration of the season the members of the trade generally, and more particularly the more far-seeing among them, saw that there was nothing alarming in the situation. The subsequent drop was undoubtedly caused by the fact that the advance seemed to stimulate production to such an extent as to excite the apprehension of distributors in regard to the production of 1887. This statement is much emphasized by the comparative strength of eastern ryes, the distillers of which, after some quibbling, have almost unanimously agreed to limit their production, either by making public statements to that effect or by inserting a limit in their contracts. In consequence they entered the new year with an easy market and with their prices well maintained.
Bordeaux and Burgundy Wines.—During 1886 there was a marked decrease in the importations of the poorer qualities of these wines, and a corresponding increase in the importations of the better qualities, compared with the business of 1885. It will be seen, moreover, that these changes are in line with a steady tendency towards the consumption of the better, as against the poorer, qualities, for the past six years, as the following table shows :
1881,.. 1882, 1883,..
Gallons. 787,580 672,500 779,386
In wood. Gallons. 560,040 546,880 538,370
Dožt ns. 102,810 102,180 117,750
These figures, however, do not show an aggregate increase of importations from year to year such as might bave been expected, which is due partly to business depression and partly because of the increased consumption of domestic wines. The tendency towards better wines is the result of education in the popular taste and of the specific import duty. The large importations of 1883 were caused by the anxiety of importers to get in large quantities of wine before the increase of duty of that year became operative.
Champagne.-The importations of champagnes for the past year show a decided increase over 1884 and 1885. This increase, in the face of the enormous duty imposed on sparkling wines, is solely due to the improvement in general prosperity, which has produced a healthy demand that is likely to last. The stock of these wines that is now held here is not as large to-day as it was a year ago. The present condition of general business denotes that 1887 will be a bright year for the champagne trade. The following table gives the importations at New-York for the past six years :
1881, 1882, 1883,
.dozens, 219,017 | 1884,.
Cette Wines. There was a marked increase in the importations of Cette wines during the past year over those of 1884 and 1885. Although it is a great satisfaction to see an increase in these goods, the total amount remains so small that their consideration is barely a factor in the trade. There is no hope that the receipts of these goods will assume any magnitude until there is a reduction in the tariff. Following are the total importations of the past six years : 1881, .galls. 461,740 | 1884,.
.galls. 131,555 1882, 494,180 1885,
110,040 1883, 286,442 | 1886,