No positive change here yet:
This was supposed to rebound:
By Bill McBride
May 18 (Calculated Risk) — Note: LA area ports were impacted by labor negotiations that were settled on February 21st. Port traffic surged in March as the waiting ships were unloaded (the trade deficit increased in March too), and port traffic declined in April.
Container traffic gives us an idea about the volume of goods being exported and imported – and usually some hints about the trade report since LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation’s container port traffic.
The following graphs are for inbound and outbound traffic at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in TEUs (TEUs: 20-foot equivalent units or 20-foot-long cargo container).
To remove the strong seasonal component for inbound traffic, the first graph shows the rolling 12 month average.
On a rolling 12 month basis, inbound traffic was down 0.2% compared to the rolling 12 months ending in March. Outbound traffic was down 1.1% compared to 12 months ending in March.
Inbound traffic had been increasing, and outbound traffic had been moving down recently. The recent downturn in exports might be due to the strong dollar and weakness in China.
The 2nd graph is the monthly data (with a strong seasonal pattern for imports).
LA Area Port TrafficUsually imports peak in the July to October period as retailers import goods for the Christmas holiday, and then decline sharply and bottom in February or March (depending on the timing of the Chinese New Year).
Imports were down 2% year-over-year in April; exports were down 11% year-over-year.
The labor issues are now resolved – the ships have disappeared from the outer harbor – and the distortions from the labor issues are behind us. This data suggests a smaller trade deficit in April.
Currencies with trade surplus don’t ordinarily go down…
European Union : Merchandise Trade
A bit on the weak side, to say the least, and even with negative rates and QE…
Germany : ZEW Survey
Solid improvement here. First good number in quite a while.
The 5 month average is almost back to where it was in November…
United States : Housing Starts
There were hardly any indications before today, but the spring housing surge is here. Today’s housing starts & permits report is one of the very strongest on record with starts soaring 20.2 percent in April to a much higher-than-expected annual rate of 1.135 million with permits up 10.1 percent to a much higher-than-expected 1.143 million. Both readings easily top the Econoday high-end forecast of 1.120 million for each. The gain for starts is the best in 7-1/2 years with the gain in permits the best in 7 years. Today’s report is an eye-opener and will re-establish expectations for building strength in housing, a sector held down badly in the first quarter by severe weather.
Half way through May and this one isn’t bouncing back:
United States : Redbook