US Container Imports Down Due to Early Chinese New Year
Chinese factory closures for the lunar new year holiday contributed to weakening volume of US containerized imports
U.S. containerized imports in February fell for the first time in four months on a year-over-year basis, sliding 5.8% to 1,193,157 twenty-foot-equivalent units as demand for furniture, toys and footwear declined on early closing of factories in China and soft consumer spending. The month-to-month drop was even more dramatic, as February imports plunged 18.6 percent from January.
While the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday, and related factory closings, made accurate year-over-year comparisons difficult, the 18.6 percent tumble from January suggests weakening volume, said Mario O. Moreno, economist for the Journal of Commerce/PIERS. Prior to the slide, furniture, the largest import commodity group, had been leading an import surge.
February imports from Asia tumbled 10 percent year over year, after a 3 percent increase in January. Moreno noted that his first quarter fo in trade from Asia might be a bit optimistic.
"Overall demand for imported home goods remains relatively modest as the pace of home sales recovers at a stubbornly slow manner," Moreno said. "Meanwhile, consumer spending rose faster than incomes in February, mainly at the expense of savings, which raises a concern for the sustainability of spending in the long run."