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LA Leads Growth and Momentum as Ports End 2018 On a High

Corp - Ports 856 Mode - Containerized 1424 Mode - Seaborne 1760 U.S. 5203

U.S. port activity ended 2018 on a high note with a 13.4% increase in inbound container volumes in December compared to a year earlier, Panjiva data shows. That brought the full year total to a 7.7% rate of growth, reaching an estimated 28.9 million TEUs. As outlined in Panjiva research of Jan. 8 late shipments from China were the main driver of the increase in shipments – the ceasefire in the U.S.-China trade war was only announced at the start of the month.

ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER RECORD

Chart shows U.S. seaborne imports of containerized freight on a monthly, three-monthly and annual-average basis.   Source: Panjiva

Among the major ports the Los Angeles / Long Beach complex saw the most rapid turnaround with a 19.2% increase vs. a year earlier following a 6.0% increase in the three months to Nov. 30. Most of the eastern seaborne ports also saw an acceleration with Savannah climbing 17.1% from 8.8% in the prior three months and New York / Newark rising 14.1% from 11.9%.

MOST PORTS SAW AN ACCELERATION IN GROWTH IN DECEMBER

Chart segments U.S. seaborne containerized imports by port of unlading. Bubble size indicates handling in the most recent month.   Source: Panjiva

Part of Los Angeles’ growth has been the result of significant new customers using the port, such as Amazon’s direct shipments, as well as an acceleration in growth from existing users including Ikea (16.4% higher in the fourth quarter vs. a year earlier) and Home Depot (2.7x higher than a year earlier).

Yet, the continued growth in shipments has raised congestion issues at several ports that will only alleviate with a significant slowdown in late January as shipment decisions made in early December being to make themselves felt through voyages that last four to seven weeks. An increase in blank sailings by Maersk and MSC for the lunar new year to 20 from 14 a year earlier may be on sign of an expected slowdown in shipping.

LA BRINGS NEW CUSTOMERS HOME

Chart segments containerized freight inbound to Los Angeles by consignee.   Source: Panjiva

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