Long Beach port volume down 3.9% in January

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Container trade volume at the Port of Long Beach dropped 3.9 percent overall in January compared to the same period a year ago, the port announced. Imports were down 5.5 percent, and exports dipped 8.2 percent. Port terminals handled 456,424 20-foot-equivalent container units last month compared to 474,960 TEUs in January 2011.

The port said import volumes typically pick up leading up to the Chinese New Year, as U.S. retailers stock up their shelves in anticipation of the holidays in Asia when most factories close down for a week or more; conversely, exports of raw materials to China slow down. Chinese New Year was Jan. 23. The port said the decline in imports reflect caution in the retail sector.

For January, import containers accounted for 229,125 TEUs compared to 242,445 TEUs in the same period last year. Export containers hit 117,083 TEUs compared to 127,546 TEUs in January 2011. Empty container moves were up 5 percent to 110,216 TEUs compared to 104,969 TEUs a year ago; most empty containers are bound overseas.