by Bill McBride on 12/19/2016 10:02:00 AM
Monday, December 19, 2016
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.
Click on graph for larger image.
On a rolling 12 month basis, inbound traffic was up 0.5% compared to the rolling 12 months ending in October. Outbound traffic was up 1.1% compared to 12 months ending in October.
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).
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).
In general exports have started increasing, and imports have been gradually increasing.