Thursday, May 13, 2010

LA Port Traffic in April, Exports off Slightly

by Bill McBride on 5/13/2010 12:07:00 PM

Notes: this data is not seasonally adjusted. There is a very distinct seasonal pattern for imports, but not for exports. LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation's container port traffic.

Sometimes port traffic gives us an early hint of changes in the trade deficit. The following graph shows the loaded inbound and outbound traffic at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in TEUs (TEUs: 20-foot equivalent units or 20-foot-long cargo container). Although containers tell us nothing about value, container traffic does give us an idea of the volume of goods being exported and imported.

LA Area Port Traffic Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Loaded inbound traffic was up 13.6% compared to April 2009. (up 15% compared to last year using three month average). Inbound traffic was still down 11% vs. two years ago (Apr 08).

Loaded outbound traffic was up 13.7% from April 2009. (+19% using three months average) Just as with imports, exports are still off from 2 years ago (off 7%).

Exports were off slightly in April after the increase in March.

For imports there is usually a significant dip in either February or March, depending on the timing of the Chinese New Year, and that didn't happen this year. Then usually imports increase until late summer or early fall as retailers build inventory for the holiday season. So this increase in April imports is part of the normal seasonal pattern.

Still, based on this data, it appears the trade deficit with Asia increased in April. The old global imbalances continue ...