Strong demand and a weaker rand pushed wool prices to a fresh high this week as the Cape Wools Merino indicator gained 4.7% to close at a record R115.65/kg (clean).This represents an increase of 32% on the opening sale and is also 12% higher than at the same sale last season.Competition among the various buying houses was fierce for the offering of 7‚746 bales‚ which was considerably less than the offerings seen over the past number of weeks. Next week’s offering will also be fairly small. A sale’s percentage of 99% was achieved.Major buyers were Lempriere SA‚ Standard Wool SA‚ Stucken & Co and Modiano SA (1 388 bales). Sustained foreign selling and negative sentiment pushed the rand to over R9 to the US dollar and at R9‚ it had lost another 1.4% of its value compared with last week’s average rate. At R12.15‚ it was 2.8% weaker against the euro.The prices of all long fleece wool rose‚ but the biggest gains were in the medium wool categories. Although prices for fine wools were up‚ these were still below the levels seen two years ago.Approximately 6‚700 bales will come under the hammer at next week’s sale.