Tuesday, December 12, 2017

LA area Port Traffic Surges in November

by Bill McBride on 12/12/2017 03:45:00 PM

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.

From the Port of Long Beach: Port Surges Past 2016 Cargo Volume

With just under one month left in 2017, the Port of Long Beach has already exceeded the cargo total for all of last year, and will handle more than 7 million containers for only the fourth time in its 106-year history....

“U.S. consumers are confident and the economy has been strong,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum. “Retailers have been stocking goods as a result and we are nearing cargo levels we have not seen since before the 2008 recession.”
From the Port of Los Angeles: Port of Los Angeles Sets New Record for Highest Monthly Container Volumes
The Port of Los Angeles moved 924,225 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in November, the most containerized monthly cargo the Port has processed during its 110-year history. The previous record of 877,564 TEUs was set in November 2016.

Eleven months through 2017, volumes are up 6.3 percent compared to last year’s record-breaking 8.8 million TEUs.
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 up 0.9% compared to the rolling 12 months ending in October.   Outbound traffic was up 0.2% compared to the rolling 12 months ending in October.

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.  

Trade has been strong - especially inbound - and setting record volumes most months recently.  This suggests the retailers are optimistic about the Christmas Holiday shopping season.

In general imports have been increasing, and exports are mostly moving sideways to slightly down recently.