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Chart of the Day: Ocean container freight sees November dip

The United States seems to be facing falling overseas demand for its goods and an increasing inventory glut at home, according to the latest ocean freight transportation statistics.

U.S. ocean container exports in November hit their lowest point since the beginning of 2010, according to an index of booking data compiled by Cass/INTTRA. In the meantime, imports dipped 6.1 percent from October to November, a period when they normally increase. The figures seemed to confirm an earlier trend of flagging freight levels.

"Retail and wholesale inventories have reached levels above their pre‐recession highs without the spending activity to support the growth," the ocean freight outfit said in reporting their figures. "The expected 3.9 percent rise in spending for the entire holiday season is not going to draw down inventory sufficiently to support strong imports in the near future."

INTTRA can best be described as an Expedia or Orbitz for ocean freight. Its booking services cover 49 shipping lines representing about 93 percent of the world's ocean-going container space. Cass Information Systems compiles the data into the freight index.

"With consumer confidence down for the second month in a row, it does not seem likely that we are poised for sustained strong growth, but rather more of the same – recurring cycles of strengthening followed by lulls, coming out a little bit ahead at the end of each turn," Cass/INTTRA concluded in their report.