U.S. seaborne imports jumped 6% in October vs. September, or 7% growth on a year earlier. This was the fastest since February, and the fourth straight increase. Imports of furnishings performed best, jumped 10%, while autos climbed 5%. Among non-durables apparel fell 0.4%, while toys managed a meager 0.5% growth ahead of the holidays. Imports from the EU accelerated to a 14% growth rate on a rolling-quarter basis, likely due to the strong dollar, while China’s exports via sea also increased. The data so far implies growth of 1.9% is possible for U.S. seaborne import shipments for the full year.
U.S. seaborne import shipments jumped 5.6% in October vs. September to reach 982,400 according to Panjiva data. This was equivalent to a 7.4% growth on a year earlier, the fastest rate since February 2016 and the fourth straight month of expansion. The growth demonstrates that the longer term impact of Hurricane Matthew, flagged in Panjiva research of October 7, and Hanjin Shipping’s financial restructuring have been minimal.
Among major product lines furnishings performed best, with a 9.9% increase in imports on a year earlier, the fourth straight rise, with consumer confidence also likely driving a 4.6% rise in auto and parts imports. The weak performance from apparel (down 0.4%) continued, though toys increased modestly (0.5%) ahead of the key holiday selling season. Among heavy industries, the 9.7% jump in steel imports was notable given the ongoing trade controversies surrounding the metal.
At the regional level the strength of the dollar continued to drive a rise in imports from the European Union. The rate of growth on a rolling quarterly basis accelerated to 13.9% year-on-year from 11.4% in September. More important was a 10.1% growth in imports from China and Hong Kong in the month of October – the may prove a temporary effect as Chinese managers became more pessimistic about export prospects recently.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, normally 83.7% of U.S. seaborne imports are completed by the end of October. When combined with conditions so far this year it should be possible for imports to reach 11.08 million shipments for the full year, or 1.9% higher than a year earlier. From an industrial perspective purchasing managers, according to the most recent ISM survey, expect to increase their imports. By contrast, consumers are becoming more cautious, according to Bloomberg, so full year growth in U.S. imports should not be taken for granted.
This post was first published in the Panjiva Daily, which features global trade news and data-driven insights and is free for all Panjiva subscribers. To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org.