U.S. Containerized Imports up for Third Consecutive Month, Led by Growth in Furniture, Auto Parts
NEWARK, N.J., March 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Steady sales growth in both automobiles and existing homes over the last few months drove U.S. container import volumes up 4.1 percent in January to 1,475,608 million twenty-foot-equivalent units. This marks the third consecutive month of year-over-year imports increase, and a month-over-month climb of 11 percent.
Expanding the commodity's continuous growth streak of more than two years, January imports of auto parts rose 19 percent to 56,662 TEUs. Home sales spurred a third straight month of increases in furniture, up 6 percent to 167,294 TEUs. The activity in the housing market bodes well for the short-term outlook of these volumes -- the largest import commodity group, said Mario O. Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS.
"The overall employment market is modestly improving, but real consumer spending has remained flat in the last 3 months through January. Higher gasoline prices are a major risk to the import trade as lower disposable income will adversely affect spending on discretionary goods such as apparel, computers, and home goods," Moreno cautioned, noting a 10 percent drop in menswear in January, though inbound shipments of footwear rose by 4 percent after several months of decline.
Imports from Asia continued to rise, up 2.9 percent in January, with shipments from China climbing the most, up 2 percent to 709,410 TEUs. Moreno forecasts a 2.5 percent increase in U.S. imports from Asia throughout 2012. Also of note, imports from Mexico grew 68 percent for this period.
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SOURCE UBM Global Trade