Group of shipping containers at the port, perspective view
© Rpianoshow

Here is the ‘UBS Container Import Tracker’, sourced from a note released today by the Swiss bank.

UBS Evidence Lab’s Global Maritime Trade Monitor, the broker notes, tracks “weekly container imports into North America. Using real-time data on ship location, capacity, and draft depth, UBS Evidence Lab calculates a modified deadweight tonnage (MDWT) metric to approximate the amount of containership cargo unloaded at North American ports. MDWT is strongly correlated (r-squared = 95%) with the official TEU import data from the top 23 U.S. ports. As we identified in our earnings downturn analysis (link), container imports are a significant driver of TL, LTL, and intermodal volumes. Weakening in the MDWT data would be an early indication of slowing in domestic freight activity.”


Week 39 4-wk MA container import MDWT were 6.5 mm, -9.4% y/y

In Week 39 (ended 10/1), the 4-wk MA level of MDWT into North America was ~6.5 mm, down from 6.8 mm last week and down -9.4% y/y. This includes a drop in imports in Week 36 to 5.8 mm MDWT during the Labor Day holiday, which did not occur during the Labor Day week in 2021. Container imports are down 16% from the June high and we believe a peak season bounce is unlikely given the significant pre-shipping that took place earlier this year.

Asia containership exits rebound ahead of China’s Golden Week holiday

In the most recent week ended 10/1, Asia containership exits were 104 mm MDWT, up 6% on a w/w basis, but 4-wk MA Asia exits (96 mm MDWT) remained down -11.2% from the peak in Week 25. We believe the jump in Asia exits in Week 39 may be explained by increased shipping ahead of China’s Golden Week holiday (Oct. 1 – Oct. 7).

China to West Coast ocean rates are below $3,000 / container

In the most recent week ended 10/1, the ocean spot rate from China to the West Coast per Freightos fell to $2,900 per container, down 84% y/y and -42% in just the last month. This significant rate decline has coincided with Asia to U.S. container imports declining only 10% y/y in the same period. Rates remain 14% higher than the 2018 peak of ~$2,600 / container.

The full note can be downloaded here.

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