U.S. containerized imports jumped 9.7 percent to 1,562,235 20-foot-equivalent units in July, led by increases in auto parts and furniture, PIERS data show.
The year-over-year percentage increase was aided by favorable comparisons with July 2011, when imports fell 5.2 percent from the previous year, and by a strengthening U.S. dollar. Volume for the first seven months of 2012 rose 3.5 percent.
Journal of Commerce Economist Mario O. Moreno said he expects import growth to accelerate during the second half of 2012. He forecasts full-year growth of 4.6 percent for imports and 2.3 percent for exports.
July imports of furniture, which accounts for about one-tenth of U.S. imports, rose 8 percent, to 151,650 20-foot-equivalent units. Moreno said furniture imports, which are closely linked to housing activity, benefited from a 2.6 percent rise in sales of existing homes through July.
Auto parts imports jumped 25 percent, to 64,940 TEUs. Increases also were posted in bananas, up 8 percent to 35,432 TEUs, and toys, up 13 percent to 47,773 TEUs.
Footwear imports declined 9 percent to 37,727 TEUs. Computers were down 5 percent. Imports of automobile tires slipped 1 percent.
Imports form China rose 5 percent to 733,463 TEUs, led by toys, furniture and lamps and parts. Shipments from Vietnam increased 29 percent. Imports from Korea rose 20 percent. Volume declined 6 percent from Thailand and 3 percent from Hong Kong.
Imports from Northeast Asia, including China, rose 6 percent to 939,807 TEUs. Northern Europe volume jumped 17 percent, to 154,010 TEUs. Imports from Southeast Asia increase 13 percent, to 151,254 TEUs. Shipments from the east coast of South America slipped 0.2 percent.