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US box levels drop to seven-year low

Figures dip below one-million-TEU mark for first time since 2004.
The port of Long Beach in California, one of the facilities surveyed by IHS Global Insight's Port Tracker.
The port of Long Beach in California, one of the facilities surveyed by IHS Global Insight's Port Tracker.

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Ports in the US saw only 818,342 TEU handled in February, the lowest figure since March 2002, according to the monthly Port Tracker released yesterday by the National Retail Federation and business forecaster IHS Global Insight.

The figures were down 20.6% from January and represent the 20th month in a row to see a year-on-year decline. However, the numbers are expected to rise back above the one-million-TEU mark in May, but will nonetheless remain well below last year's levels.      

“The weak port cargo volumes have left port trucking with excess capacity, and cargo is moving without congestion either at the ports or through the inland system,” said IHS Global Insight economist Paul Bingham.

“Rail operations were affected by flooding in the northern states in March and April but disruptions were not sustained enough to cause significant delays.”

All US ports covered by IHS Global Insight's Port Tracker are rated 'low' for congestion, the same as last month.

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