Port activity slumps in February
April 9, 2012
West Coast ports had a very weak February, due primarily to the date of the Chinese New Year. February volumes were down 18.2% from January, and the year-over-year comparison went negative, -8.3%, after posting positive growth for two straight months. Volumes in January were at 1.345 million TEUs. This is on par with volumes seen during February 2010 and is the lowest overall level since the very weak volumes during the first few months of 2009.
The weakness was solely on the import sector as exports showed some strength following three months of little activity. Loaded outbound containers only dropped 0.8% from January and were up 3.3% versus last February.
Chinese New Year
As expected, much of January’s strength appears to have been volume pulled forward from February due to the unusually early timing this year of the Chinese New Year. Import volume plunged both on a seasonally adjusted basis and y/y. Things should look better in March. Expect shippers to favor East Coast routings for the next few months if normal seasonal patterns prevail.
TEU: Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit
The standard unit for describing a container ship’s cargo carrying capacity, or a shipping terminal’s container cargo handling capacity. A standard forty-foot international container (40x8x8 feet) equals two TEUs (each 20x8x8 feet).
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