NEWARK, N.J., Jan. 5, 2012 -- U.S. containerized import volume rose 5 percent year-over-year to 1,488,665 20-foot equivalent units in November, a sharp turnaround in the slumping market that was pushed by strong gains in shipments tied to the recovering housing industry, reported Mario O. Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS.
Increases in home sales have buoyed the housing market, leading to a 7 percent November growth in shipments of furniture, a top import commodity, to 144,823 TEUs.
"A healthy housing market is key to the revival of U.S. containerized imports growth as many of the goods consumers purchase to furnish a home are imported," Moreno said. He pointed to additional expansion in November in cooking and heat appliances, lamps and parts, and kitchenware. Growth in these other commodities contributed to the increase in imports from China -- up 4.1 percent year over year to 706,399 TEUs -- the country's first rise in eight months. Demand for local lumber was a key factor in a surprising November increase of 515 percent in imports from Canada.
"The question is, are we seeing a self-sustained recovery in home sales?" Moreno said. "This will depend very much on how many jobs the economy can generate every month. ... Over the last 12 months through November, the economy generated an average of 132,000 jobs per month (NSA). We are not there yet, but getting closer."
On a month-to-month basis, overall imports edged up 0.3 percent in November, and year to date, imports were up 3 percent.
A full analysis of the JOC/PIERS findings is available online at www.joc.com.
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SOURCE The Journal of Commerce/PIERS
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