Special note: Now that the expansion to the Panama Canal has been completed, some of the traffic that used the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will eventually go through the canal. This could impact TEUs on the West Coast in the future.
Container traffic gives us an idea about the volume of goods being exported and imported – and usually some hints about the trade report since LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation’s container port traffic.
To remove the strong seasonal component for inbound traffic, the first graph shows the rolling 12 month average.
On a rolling 12 month basis, inbound traffic was unchanged compared to the rolling 12 months ending in June. Outbound traffic was down 0.2% compared to 12 months ending in June.
The downturn in exports over the last year was probably due to the slowdown in China and the stronger dollar.
The 2nd graph is the monthly data (with a strong seasonal pattern for imports).
Usually imports peak in the July to October period as retailers import goods for the Christmas holiday, and then decline sharply and bottom in February or March (depending on the timing of the Chinese New Year).
In general exports are moving sideways and imports are gradually increasing.