U.S. containerized import volume rose 6.2 percent year-over-year in January 2014, according to advance figures from PIERS, the data division of JOC Group Inc. Imports totaled 1.58 million TEUs in January. January imports were up roughly 10 percent from containerized volume in December.
“The U.S. economy performed much better than expected in the third quarter, but around half of the 4.1 percent expansion came from a sharp increase in inventories,” said Journal of Commerce Economist Mario Moreno in the January report of JOC Insights. “The labor market is firming, even after a weak December employment report, which showed a gain of only 74,000 payrolls. We need to look at this number with a grain of salt because in the last 12 months through December, the U.S. economy averaged monthly gains of more than 180,000 jobs, which is respectable.”
Leading the gains among the top 25 imports were fabrics, up 69 percent; plastic products, up 53 percent; and bags, up 33 percent. The largest declines were seen in menswear, with a 27 percent year-over-year drop; miscellaneous apparel, down 18 percent; and computers, down 15 percent.
Eastbound trans-Pacific imports rose 6.7 percent year-over-year to 1.19 million TEUs in January. The largest drop was in imports from the east coast of South America, which slipped 4 percent to 27,275 TEUs. The largest regional increase came from the Mediterranean, which climbed 14 percent in volume to 78,951 TEUs in January 2014.
Among the Top 25 source countries, shipments from Spain showed the largest increase in January, up 25 percent year-over-year to 14,119 TEUs. Shipments from Italy totaled 33,135 TEUs in January, up 20 percent year-over-year. India’s exports to the U.S. in January totaled 42,972 TEUs, rising 19 percent year-over-year. U.S. imports from Honduras were down the most, off 16 percent year-over-year to 15,175 TEUs. Hong Kong followed with a drop of 10 percent to 34,375 TEUs, and imports from Chile experienced a decline of 7 percent to 14,102 TEUs.