by calculated risks 1/23/2020 01:18:00 PM
Notes: The Panama Canal expansion was completed in 2016 (as I noted several years ago), and some of the traffic that used the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will likely pass through the canal. This may affect TEUs on the West Coast.
Container traffic gives us an idea of how much cargo is being exported and imported — and usually a few hints about the trade report because Los Angeles area ports handle about 40% of the country’s container port traffic.
The following charts 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 shipping container).
To remove the strong seasonal component of inbound traffic, the first graph shows a 12-month rolling average.
Click on the chart for a larger image.
And on a 12-month rolling basis, incoming traffic was down 1.6% in December compared to the 12 months ending in November. Outbound traffic increased by 1.1% compared to the 12 rolling month ending in the previous month.
Imports usually peak in July-October as retailers import goods for the Christmas holidays, then drop sharply and fall back in February or March depending on the timing of the Chinese New Year.
Imports were down 20% year-on-year in December, and exports were up 15% year-on-year.
It is possible that exports have bottomed out after declining for several years (even before the pandemic).