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CONTAINER VOLUMES SLUGGISH AT CHINA'S LARGEST PORTS CONTAINER THROUGHPUT AT China's main ports dropped slightly in February compared to the same month last year, with volumes dipping 0.8 percent to just over 10.3 million 20-foot-equivalent units. The big loser was the Pearl River Delta port of Shenzhen, where year-over-year volumes declined 13 per- cent to 1.6 million TEUs, according to fig- ures from the Shanghai Shipping Exchange. Shanghai and Tianjin saw volumes fall, by 0.7 percent and 3.3 percent to 2.6 million and 982,000 TEUs, respectively. The other five ports making up the top eight — Ningbo- Zhoushan, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Dalian and Xiamen — booked year-over-year vol- ume increases ranging from 0.7 percent to 5 percent. February volumes at ports out- side of the top eight showed more volatility, with several smaller Chinese ports book- ing year-over-year throughput increases, including Nanjing (up 12.8 percent), Yantai (2.8 percent) and Chongqing (4.4 percent). With 62 percent year-over-year through- put g row th to 94,000 TEUs, the Port of Tangshan continues its climb the rankings among China's smaller ports. Volumes at the ports of Fuzhou, Zhongshan, Wuhan a nd Na ntong fell 5 percent, 17 percent, 7.3 percent and 25 percent, respectively, while container volumes at Rizhao in Shandong province were flat. Hong Kong's container numbers slid a not her 16 percent yea r- over-year in February, to 1.2 million TEUs, according to separate fig ures released by Hong Kong's Port Development Council. The large fall brings the cumulative year-over- year decline since the beginning of the year to 12.5 percent. The flat mainland China port numbers follow on the heels of February trade data that makes for depressing reading for those hoping China hits its 2016 GDP growth target of 6.5 percent to 7 percent. February exports tumbled 25.4 percent year-over-year while imports fell 13.8 percent. Although there is normally a dip in trade volumes after Chinese New Year, the declines this year are larger than normal and another clear sign of the steady slowdown of the Chinese economy, especially manufacturing, analysts said. US TRUCK TONNAGE GREW 7.2 PERCENT IN FEBRUARY U. S . TRUCK TON NAGE leaped 7.2 percent in February, after declining a revised 0.3 percent in January, according to the American Truck- ing Associations. That extra weight sent the ATA For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index shooting to a record high. Year-over-year, the seasonally adjusted index was up 8.6 percent, compared with a 1.1 percent annualized increase in Janu- ary. The sequential and annual tonnage gains far outstripped any seen in 2015, when the highest year-over-year gain was 6.7 percent last Janu- ary. In February 2015, the tonnage index rose 2.8 percent month-to-month and 3.3 percent year- over-year. But don't get too excited, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said ."While it is nice to see a strong February, I caution everyone not read too much into it. The strength was mainly due to a weaker-than-average January, including bad winter storms, thus there was some catch- up going on in February," he said. "If March is strong, then I'll get more excited." Costello worries about stubbornly high U.S. inventory levels. Total business inventories rose 1.8 per - cent year-over-year in January, and were up 0.1 percent from December, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. The retail inventory-to-sales ratio rose to 1.50. "We need those inventories reduced before trucking can count on more con- sistent, better freight volumes," he said. -2 0 2 4 6 8 10 F J 2016 D N O S A J J M A M F J 2015 ● Month-to-month % change ● Year-over-year % change Source: American Trucking Associations ATA FOR-HIRE TRUCK TONNAGE INDEX n Month-to-month and annualized percentage change in truck tonnage. Spotlight 6 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE APRIL 4.2016 6 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE

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