Number for the day is 45.0%

The percentage of containers that were shipped empty from the Port of Los Angeles during the 2011 financial year was 48.42% (or 1.8 million twenty-foot units). Incoming containers received empty were a mere 3.42%. Our number for the day is the net 45.0% of incoming containers that are returned empty to their port of destination.

Shippers attempt to fill containers on their return journey, even at super-low rates, in order to offset the cost of completing the round-trip. Empty containers indicate failure to locate manufactured goods that can compete in these export markets. This affects not only the shipper, but the entire economy. You see, those containers leaving the West Coast are not really empty. They contain something far more valuable than the goods being imported. They contain manufacturing jobs — and the infrastructure, skills and know-how to support them.

In 2012, if you need an independent gauge of how successful the President’s jobs program has been, check this number.

Harpex Container Index stalls

The Harpex Index of container ship rates is retreating. Failure of support at 600 would warn of another test of the 2010 low. The index, calculated by Harper Petersen ship brokers, reflects international demand for container vessels and is a useful measure of international trade in light manufactured goods. Falling international trade would have the greatest impact on export-oriented Asian markets like China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

Harpex Container Ship Index