Economy Watch

A Tokyo-based research firm has downgraded its outlook for Japanese container trade in fiscal 2015, which started on April 1, citing a significantly slower pace of growth in imports than previously anticipated.

Persistent weakness in the eurozone economy will cause imports and exports through North Europe ports to decline this year, a new report predicts.

U.S. exports of cotton (not carded or combed) by dollar value tumbled 20.6 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2015, the tenth consecutive quarterly decline. The trade outlook for 2015 looks disappointing, mostly because of a global glut of the fiber and weakening demand from China, the top-. Cotton exports by dollar value are forecast to decline 1.6 percent for an annual total of $4.3 billion with downside risks, following a decline of 21.4 percent in 2014.

U.S. exports are predicted to fall for a second straight year.

The value of the goods shipped between the U.S. and Canada dropped 12.5 percent in April, thanks to low oil prices, a strong U.S. dollar and a shrinking Canadian economy.

Truckload and less-than-truckload pricing expected to rise more quickly than freight volumes, as carriers seek to counter rising operating costs and shippers look to secure capacity.

Trucking executives plan to invest more capital in trucks and to hire more workers over the next 12 months, a sign of their confidence in the economy and good news for shippers concerned about the availability of truck capacity in the year ahead.

The general slowdown in China’s container exports was supported by the latest manufacturing data that shows weak factory activity being recorded in the mainland for the fourth consecutive month.

Truck tonnage in the U.S. rose 1.1 percent in May after dropping 1.4 percent in April, but large inventories and slow-paced manufacturing growth are limiting freight demand.

In an ominous sign for its export-reliant economy, Japan’s red-hot merchandise trade with the United States lost some steam in May after expanding by more than 20 percent in March and April.