U.S. containerized exports contracted in October for the first time in 4 months as European markets softened markedly. Overall U.S. containerized exports fell 3.0% Year-Over-Year in October totaling 1,008,273 TEUs, after climbing 10.3% in September.
Year to date, through October, overall U.S. containerized exports were still up 7.1%. However, PIERS/JOC, Economist, Mario Moreno’s recent updated forecasts point to a 5.8% growth for full year 2011, and slower growth for 2012 at 3.8%. On a month to month basis, exports rose 1.3% in October over September.
Demand from Europe continues to decline as European economies struggle with ongoing sovereign debt problems and decelerating manufacturing activity. Following flat growth in Q3, exports to Northern Europe dropped 7% in October as shipments of motor vehicles (-38%), paper & paperboard (-29%), and wood pulp (-23%) contracted sharply. Losses in outbound shipments to the Mediterranean region continued. After plunging 10% in Q3, trade to the Mediterranean tumbled 14% in October as demand for vinyl alcohol (-58%), paper & paperboard (-18%), and wood pulp (-32%) succumbed markedly. Significant losses were also seen in South American markets, particularly in Brazil. On the upside, exports to Africa gained momentum, expanding 20% on account of grocery products, poultry, and vinyl alcohol among other goods.
On a country level, Brazil led the losses driven by a marked slowdown in economic activity, which led policymakers to reverse tightening policy. Exports to Brazil plunged 25% to a total of as demand for miscellaneous plastic products (-59%), wood pulp (-40%), and unclassifiable chemicals (-32%) reversed sharply. Italy and Hong Kong followed, each dropping by 34% and 11% respectively. Exports to China, nevertheless, kept at posting gains, up 4% as demand for U.S. logs & lumber (+64%), wood pulp (+47%) and meat (+195%) continued.
On a commodity level, significant losses were seen in pet & animal feeds (-12%), grains & flour products (-32%), paper & paperboard (-2%), and motor vehicles (-7%). This marks the first decline for motor vehicles in 14 months, Year-Over-Year. Offsetting some of the losses are synthetic resins (+125%), meat (+38%), logs & lumber (+17%), poultry (+27%), and mixed metal scrap (+7%).
PIERS is the only source for transaction-level U.S. export data. PIERS staff reporters cover every major U.S. port, collecting and processing over 300,000 export Bills of Lading each month to provide a complete view of U.S. trade. To learn more about PIERS export data, visit www.piers.com/USExports.