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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About PIERS -- PIERS is the most comprehensive database of U.S. waterborne trade activity in the world providing information services to thousands of subscribers globally. Launched more than 35 years ago, PIERS was the first venture in digital global trade intelligence and quickly became the industry standard for accuracy, reliability and insight. Our unique infrastructure and proprietary technology allow us to not only publish import data but also complete coverage of U.S. export transactional data. PIERS is a division of UBM Global Trade, and a sister company of The Journal of Commerce. For more information, visit www.piers.com, or call 800-952-3839 (+1-973-776-8660).
About UBM Global Trade -- UBM Global Trade is the leading provider of proprietary data, news, business intelligence and analytical content supporting commercial maritime, rail, trucking, warehousing and logistics industries worldwide. The company's portfolio of more than 100 online, print and interactive workflow business solutions includes The Journal of Commerce, Breakbulk, RailResource, PIERS and an array of international trade and transportation databases and directories. UBM Global Trade, a subsidiary of UBM plc, is headquartered in Newark, NJ, with offices throughout the United States. For more information, explore www.ubmglobaltrade.com or call 800-223-0243 (+1-973-848-7250 outside the U.S. or Canada).