Sunday, October 16, 2016

LA area Port Traffic: Exports up Year-over-year in September

by Bill McBride on 10/16/2016 12:48:00 PM

From Port of Long Beach: September Cargo Weighed Down by Hanjin Bankruptcy

Port of Long Beach container volumes declined 16.6 percent year-over-year in September, as the effects of the Hanjin bankruptcy reached West Coast ports.

Longshore workers moved 546,805 twenty-foot equivalent units last month. This included 282,945 TEUs in imports, down 15 percent from September 2015, a month which capped off the Port’s best quarter ever. Exports dropped to 120,383 TEUs, a decrease of 4.2 percent. Empties were 27.2 percent lower at 143,476 TEUs.

Port officials said the number of containers handled during September was impacted not only by reduced calls by Hanjin-operated ships, but also by the absence of Hanjin containers on vessels operated by fellow CKYHE Alliance members. Hanjin Shipping containers account for approximately 12.3 percent of the Port’s total containerized volume.
Special note: Now that the expansion to the Panama Canal has been completed, some of the traffic that used the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will eventually go through the canal. This could impact TEUs on the West Coast in the future.

Container traffic gives us an idea about the volume of goods being exported and imported - and usually some hints about the trade report 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.

LA Area Port TrafficClick on graph for larger image.

On a rolling 12 month basis, inbound traffic was down 0.4% compared to the rolling 12 months ending in August.   Outbound traffic was up 0.5% compared to 12 months ending in August.

The downturn in exports last year was probably due to the slowdown in China and the stronger dollar.  Now exports are picking up a little.

The 2nd graph is the monthly data (with a strong seasonal pattern for imports).

LA Area Port TrafficUsually 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).

In general exports might have started increasing, and imports have been gradually increasing.