January 2017 Import And Export Sea Container Rolling Averages Improving Trend Accelerates

This month both imports and exports trend lines accelerated further into positive territory - and imports hit an all time hign.

 Analyst Opinion of Container Movements

This month container movements were above or nearly above historical highs for Januarys, and the rolling averages improved. This data series is noisy and it is best to view the data using the 3 month rolling average. Imports and Exports remain on an improving trend line.

Using this data to forecast the USA economy, the indications are at this point of a continued weak but improving growth of consumption.

This data set is based on the Ports of LA and Long Beach which account for much (approximately 40%) of the container movement into and out of the United States - and these two ports report their data significantly earlier than other USA ports. Most of the manufactured goods move between countries in sea containers (except larger rolling items such as automobiles). This pulse point is an early indicator of the health of the economy.

Consider that imports final sales are added to GDP usually several months after import - while the import cost itself is subtracted from GDP in the month of import. Export final sales occur around the date of export. Container counts do not include bulk commodities such as oil or autos which are not shipped in containers. For this month:

  Acceleration Month-over-Month Change from One Year Ago Year to Date vs. Previous Year Acceleration 3 Month Rolling Average 3 Month Rolling Average vs. Average One Year Ago
Imports +2.8 % +10.7 % +10.7 % +1.2 % +8.4 %
Exports +8.6 % +20.7 % +20.7 % +2.9 % +14.6 %

As the data is very noisy - the best way to look at this data normally is the 3 month rolling averages. There is a direct linkage between imports and USA economic activity - and the change in growth in imports foretells real change in economic growth. Export growth is an indicator of competitiveness and global economic growth.

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