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12/23/2009


Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
'Port Tracker' report: Container volume gains on near-term horizon for U.S. ports



After a tough year for major U.S. ports’ traffic, 2010 might include three-straight months of container volume gains in the early going, according to the latest monthly “Port Tracker” report released by the National Retail Federation and IHS Global Insight.

Volume in 2009 is projected to total 12.6 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), which would represent a 17 percent decline from last year’s volume of 15.2 million TEUs and the lowest annual output since 2003.

Surveyed U.S. ports handled 1.18 million TEUs in October — the most recent month for actual volume figures, according to Port Tracker — up 4 percent from September’s level, as retailers had their busiest shipping month of the year, but down 14 percent year over year. November volume is estimated at 1.09 million TEUs, which would represent a 12 percent year-over year drop, and December volume is forecasted at 1.05 million TEUs, which would represent a 1 percent decrease and the 30th-straight month of year-over-year declines.

Port Tracker projects January volume will fall 4 percent to 1.02 million TEUs, but beginning in February, volume would begin to increase on a year-over-year basis. February’s forecasted total of 972,391 TEUs would rise 16 percent, March’s expected total of 1.02 million TEUa would increase 6 percent and April’s projected total of 1.08 million TEUs would go up 9 percent, according to the report.
 
"The second half of 2009 has seen an improvement with ‘less bad’ year-over-year numbers compared with the first half," said IHS Global Insight Economist Paul Bingham in a prepared statement. “While improving, import container traffic is projected to be weak through March due to the traditional slow season combined with the weak pace of economic recovery.”

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