by Bill McBride on 9/20/2013 01:39:00 PM
Friday, September 20, 2013
Container traffic gives us an idea about the volume of goods being exported and imported - and possibly some hints about the trade report for August since LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation's container port traffic.
The following graphs are for 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).
To remove the strong seasonal component for inbound traffic, the first graph shows the rolling 12 month average.
Click on graph for larger image.
On a rolling 12 month basis, inbound traffic was up 0.7% in August compared to the rolling 12 months ending in July. Outbound traffic increased 0.6% compared to July.
In general, inbound traffic has been increasing slowly, and outbound traffic had been declining slightly (but picked up in August).
The 2nd graph is the monthly data (with a strong seasonal pattern for imports).
Usually imports peak in the July to October period as retailers import goods for the Christmas holiday, and then decline sharply and bottom in February or March (depending on the timing of the Chinese New Year).
This suggests an increase in the trade deficit with Asia for August - and possibly fairly strong retailer buying for the holiday season.