Panjiva data shows 15% shipment decline from January to February
While it was not unexpected, data from Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers, indicated that the number of United States-bound waterborne shipments dropped 15 percent from January to February.
The decline follows a 17 percent uptick from December to January, a 14 percent decrease from November to December, and a 2 percent drop from October to November. U.S. waterborne shipments have been down on a sequential basis in five of the last six months.
February shipments came in at 864,632 for a 15 percent decline from January’s 1,018,854. This tally was 2 percent less than February 2010.
The number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S. in February was 131,185 for an 8 percent drop-off. This is steeper than 2010’s 3 percent decline but less than 2009’s 10 percent decrease. The number of manufacturers shipping to the U.S. was up 7 percent from January to February, down 14 percent from November to December and down another 2 percent from October to November.
“This is a seasonal decline and it nothing to be too concerned about,” said Panjiva CEO Josh Green in an interview. “It is perhaps a little steeper than what we would have expected, but February has a few things working against it: 1-from a seasonal point of view, it tends to be a low point for global trade; 2-it is a shorter month, with fewer shipments coming in; and 3-it is the Chinese New Year.”
Shipments that might have come into the U.S. in February could have been squeezed into February, and that accounts for some of the surprisingly good results in January, said Green.
When assessing Panjiva’s numbers and global trade data from other sources, too, Green explained that January and February combined present a relatively positive indicator of where things stand regarding the global economy,
“Panjiva January and February 2011 shipments compared to January and February 2010 are up 5 percent,” he said.
And with the overall economy still fragile, coupled with increasing oil and gas prices, which has the potential to impact consumer spending, and solid manufacturing and industrial production growth, the overall economic recovery is a bit of a mixed bag at the moment.
In terms of how these factors could impact the pace of the recovery and global trade conditions, Green said that he is still reasonably optimistic, with steady growth still expected. And the modest upticks in consumer sentiment also suggest a relatively stable environment, albeit not one which suggests rapid growth either, which should be reflected in future data.
“If we don’t see that, it could be a surprise, but sustained and significant increases in the price of oil and additional geopolitical shocks could certainly derail that, but my hunch is that over the next several months we will see slow and steady growth in world trade,” said Green.
Going forward, the benchmark for growth, according to Green, is staying ahead of 2010 levels. And in order to hit that. 5 percent growth from February to March is needed.