Container Ports End Volume Slump

The National Retail Federation and Global Insight reported that container freight volumes moving through US retail container ports rose above previous-year levels in December 2007 for the first time in four months.

“Month-to-month numbers are declining as we head into the winter slow season,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy for the National Retail Federation (NRF). “But we're starting to see increases again when year-to-year numbers are compared.”

Ports were operating without congestion, added Paul Bingham, an economist at Global Insight. “Rail performance measures continued to be adequate in December. Intermodal rail operations are also performing adequately and are expected to continue to do so over the next six months,” he continued.

Ports surveyed handled 1.38 million twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) in November, the most recent month for which full data is available. That figure was 4.4% below October's 1.44 million TEUs and 2.2% off November 2006 levels. November, therefore, was the fourth month in a row to show year-on-year monthly volume declines.

December was estimated at 1.35 million TEUs, up 3.3% from the same period in 2006 but down from November 2007 levels. This was the first monthly increase in year-on-year volumes since July 2007.

January 2008 is forecast to reach 1.31 million TEUs, 1.8% ahead of the prior year.

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