Logistics Numbers Show Ups and Downs

The latest logistics numbers show both areas of concern and promise, according to a summary courtesy of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics.

The Dow Jones Transportation index was down 19% during July, and the NASDAQ Transportation Index was down 20%. In June, the USDOT's freight transportation services index increased 2.6% from the previous month, the largest monthly increase since November 2009. The index is up 4.1 year-over-year.

Meanwhile, the Cass Freight Index showed the July shipments index falling 3.7% from the previous month, but increasing 11% year over year. The July expenditures index was down 2.1% for the month and up 29.5% year over year. That’s based on transportation dollars and shipments of Cass clients comprised of over 400 shipping companies.

Import Volumes

In June, the U.S. imported $224 billion of cargo. June U.S. imports have decreased 0.8% in terms of value over the previous month and grew 13% year-over-year, according to the U.S. Census.

Export Volumes

In June, according to the U.S. Census, the U.S. exported about $171 billion of cargo. June U.S. exports decreased 2.3% in terms of value over the previous month and grew 12.9% year-over-year.

Import & Export Price Index

U.S. import prices decreased 0.5% in June, the first monthly decline since June 2010. The price index for U.S. exports rose 0.1% in June after rising 0.2% the previous month.

Rail

Railroad bulk carload freight in July increased 0.7% over June 2011. July’s freight traffic decreased 1% since July 2010 and was up 3.1% over June 2009, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). AAR also reports that intermodal rail traffic in July 2011 was 1.3% higher than July 2010 but 0.8% lower than June 2011 totals. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 20 straight months.

Air

Global air freight in June fell 3% from a year ago and was down 1.3% compared to the previous month. North American air freight decreased 2.9% in June year-over-year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Ports

Import shipment volume, in TEUs, at U.S. ports increased 2.45% in July over the previous month, but decreased 4.1% from the previous year. The total number of shipments in July increased 3.49% from June while also showing a decrease of 3% from July 2010, according to Zepol.

National Retail Federation is projecting an increase of 10.4% for containerized retail shipments in September. June, the latest month for which data is available, saw a 2.6% decrease in retail traffic for the month and a 5% decrease in retail traffic for the year. June’s year-over-year decline was the first in 18 months.

Warehousing & Distribution

The U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 9.8% during Q2 2011, reports Grubb & Ellis. That’s down from 10.1% in the previous quarter.

In Q2 2011 warehouse and distribution rental rates in the U.S. averaged $4.38 per square foot, up from $4.37 per square foot in the previous quarter.

The National Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) decreased 4.4 points to 50.9 in July 2011. July’s PMI was the lowest since July 2009, but has indicated expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 24th consecutive month. New orders decreased 2.4 points to 49.2 and production decreased 2.2 points to 52.3, according to the Institute of Supply Management (ISM).

Vacancy rates for warehouses and distribution centers near U.S. seaports declined to 8.5% this year compared to a rate of 9.7% nationally, according to real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

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