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Friday, May 15, 2009

LA Area Port Traffic

by Calculated Risk on 5/15/2009 02:00:00 PM

Note: this is not seasonally adjusted.

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.

Inbound traffic was 21.5% below April 2008.

Outbound traffic was 18.3% below April 2008.

There has been some slight recovery in exports the last two months (the year-over-year comparison was off 30% from December through February). But this is the 2nd worst YoY comparison for imports - only February was worse, and that might have been related to the Chinese New Year. So imports from Asia appear especially weak.

This suggests a little more improvement in the trade balance with Asia in the April trade report. Of course the overall trade deficit will probably be worse because of rising oil prices.