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Top North America Container Traffic Remains Strong Through May 2017

Jul. 04, 2017 7:30 PM ETBRK.B, CHRW, CNI, CP, CSX, EXPD, HUBG, JBHT, NSC, UNP, XPO, BRK.A, CNR:CA, CP:CA3 Comments
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  • Top North America TEUs were up 8 percent through May, a 20 bps decline from April.
  • Collectively, May was up 6.3 percent versus last year, when considering top North America seaports.
  • Performance across all seaport regions was more mixed, with select U.S., Canadian and Mexican seaports leading the way.
  • Class I TEU traffic results have begun to display consistent positive momentum.

Top North America Seaport TEU Review

During 2016, top North America seaport 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) were on track to witness negative performance. This was the case through September for laden and empty imported/exported TEUs. It was not until October through December that positive momentum was sustained to close the year out with an overall approximately 1.2 percent gain.

Port of Montreal; Source: Google Images

Through May 2017, performance has remained strong, with top North America seaports witnessing 8 percent growth versus last year. This performance declined by 20 basis points (bps) from the 8.2 percent performance recorded through April. Results have remained robust across the West, East and Gulf coasts for the year, but the month of May did witness more variance.

*Note: The seaports of Port Everglades, Jacksonville, Halifax, Wilmington DE and Mobile do not provide monthly TEU data. These mentioned seaports are excluded from the total calculation.

Despite the sequential declines in April and May, performance has now been positive in eight out of the previous 10 consecutive months. International trade continues to be robust for multiple modes, irrespective of how the trade policy rhetoric changes. Consumer demand continues to be a big driver for growth.

Gross domestic product (GDP) was revised higher to 1.4 percent from the initial 0.7 and second 1.2 percent estimates. This represents a more than doubling of growth from last year's quarter. Container TEU volumes continue to substantially outpace GDP. For second-quarter GDP, initial estimates were at 4 percent, which have dropped to 3.4, 2.9 and 2.7 percent, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow forecast. The second-quarter 2016 number to beat is 1.4 percent.

The list below provides an overview of Top North America seaports. Collectively, these seaports reflected greater than 90 percent of total TEU traffic during 2016.

This article was written by

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Analyst’s Disclosure: I am/we are long CNI, HUBG, JBHT, KSU, XPO. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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