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Friday, June 11, 2010

LA Port Traffic: Imports Surge Year-over-year in May

by Calculated Risk on 6/11/2010 03:58:00 PM

Notes: this data is not seasonally adjusted. There is a very distinct seasonal pattern for imports, but not for exports. LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation's container port traffic.

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.

Loaded inbound traffic was up 18.3% compared to May 2009. Inbound traffic was still down 5% vs. two years ago (May 08).

Loaded outbound traffic was up 9.4% from May 2009. Just as with imports, exports are still off from 2 years ago (off 7.3%).

For imports there is usually a significant dip in either February or March, depending on the timing of the Chinese New Year, and then usually imports increase until late summer or early fall as retailers build inventory for the holiday season. So this increase in May imports is part of the normal seasonal pattern.

Based on this data, it appears the trade deficit with Asia increased in May. Once again it appears imports are increasing faster than exports and the pre-crisis global imbalances have returned.