Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for July 16 - July 20, 2012:

Monday, July 16, 2012

No Newswire today.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Top Story

Retail sales slipped unexpectedly in June

The U.S. retail sector registered an unexpected decline in sales volume in June, slipping 0.5 percent rather than analysts' projections of an up to 0.2 percent gain.

June's dip followed May's 0.2 percent slip in retail sales, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

The recent sluggishness for U.S. jobs growth may have had a negative impact on consumer demand as 9 of 13 major retail sales categories declined.

"People are just pulling back, and you're not likely to see a significant pickup from here," said Michael Carey, chief economist, North America at Credit Agricole CIB to Bloomberg. "This was certainly a slowdown from the first quarter," he said.

Retail sales decreased 1.6 percent at building materials outlets, 0.7 percent at department stores, 0.8 percent at furniture outlets, and 0.6 percent at auto and parts dealers, with the biggest drop in a year for the furniture sector, and cars and light trucks selling at a faster pace over May.

Consumer spending was up 2.5 percent in the first quarter.

"We expect the macroeconomic environment for the balance of 2012 to continue to be influenced by external concerns, including fiscal and monetary policy in U.S and European debt crisis which is eroding business and consumer confidence," said Vernon Nagel, chairman and CEO of lighting fixture manufacturer Acuity Brands Inc. in a recent earnings call.

For the full Bloomberg story:

Another retailer group urges ILA-USMX to avoid work disruption

On the heels of last week's call by the Retail Industry Leaders Association to East and Gulf Coast shipping industry labor and management to get a contract agreement in hand "well in advance" of the September 30 deadline, another retailer group has relayed its members' concerns that "any supply chain disruption" could "jeopardize the fragile U.S. economy recovery" and cause potential re-routing of cargo.

"It is important to note that even the perceived risk of a disruption has already forced retailers and other shippers to reevaluate their use of East and Gulf Coast ports," wrote Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation in a letter to ILA President Harold Daggett and James Capo, chairman and chief executive of the United States Maritime Alliance.

Shay urged the two sides "to issue a statement committing to continue negotiating and working without interruption, even if negotiations extend beyond the September 30 contract expiration."

The ILA and USMX both recently confirmed they were re-engaged with negotiations in Delray Beach, Florida this month as both sides claimed to their respective members that there had been "significant discussions" on "critical items of importance" and that "substantial progress" has been made over areas such as terminal automation, chassis pools, wages, and benefits.

"The ILA is hopeful that a tentative agreement can be reached during the next round of talks in late July," said Daggett in a notice to his members.

The USMX's Capo wrote to his membership: "While clearly there are many issues to be resolved, I am confident that both sides recognize the importance of reaching an agreement."

Prior to July, there were heated public exchanges amid on-and-off talks that centered on the contentious issues of new technology implementation and chassis jurisdiction.

Fears of a possible work stoppage by the over 14,000 union workers from Maine to Texas operating at 14 ports have rippled throughout the shipping industry.

Shay's letter referenced the 2002 labor lockout at the West Coast ports during contract difficult negotiations that resulted in a 10-day stoppage, citing estimated costs to the U.S. economy at that time of several billion dollars a day.

"These negotiations are important to all of the import and export industries who rely on these ports to move the nation's commerce," Shay wrote.

Direct maritime shipments resume between Miami and Havana for first time in 50 years

Direct maritime shipments from Miami to Cuba reportedly resumed last week for the first time in a half-century.

With licenses in hand from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control and the U.S. Commerce Department, the International Port Corp.'s Ana Ceilia called into Havana Harbor on Friday with cargoes from charitable organizations, religious groups, families, and friends.

There have been other specially authorized humanitarian shipments departing U.S. ports for Cuba amid the five-decade-old American embargo on the Caribbean nation, but the new weekly service from Miami to Havana is a first since before the embargo.

For the full Miami Herald story:

MOL opens two offices in China

The China-based unit of Japanese shipping group MOL announced the opening of branches in Fuzhou and Zhongshan that officially opened for business on Monday.

Fuzhou and Zhongshan are logistics hubs for ports that include Mawei and Jiangyin in Fujian Province, and Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Jiangmen in Guangdong Province.

Industries in the two hubs include the manufacturing of shoes, tiles, electronics, metal, plastic and electrical products.

"MOL (China) expects Fuzhou and Zhongshan to play an important role in the future expansion of trade in China," the company said in a statement.

MOL (China) says it now has 13 branches and offices in China.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Top Story

REPORT: Global freight volumes remain stagnant amid Europe's economic concerns

Global freight volumes remained in the doldrums for the first quarter of this year as total external trade by sea measured in tons for both the European Union and United States were still below pre-recession levels, according to a recent report by the International Transport Forum, a think tank of the Organization of Cooperation and Economic Development.

"The overall picture for global freight is one of stagnation with indications for near- term decline in economic performance for the EU-27," the report said.

Total external trade by sea for the E.U. and U.S. was down 5 and 6 percent respectively by the end of this year's first quarter compared to the pre-crisis peak, the report said.

The E.U.'s airfreight volume was 4 percent below the pre-crisis peak as of March 2012, while U.S. airfreight showed a modest recovery upwards of 1 percent, according to the report.

Germany is reportedly bucking the stagnating economic trends of its European neighbors, with its sea trade up 12 percent over pre-crisis levels and an airfreight sector that is recovering more rapidly.

Another bright spot has been exports to the BRIICS and Asia, which have been "locomotives of global growth," the ITF report said.

However, the report also says trade with Asia "shows signs of leveling off," particularly from E.U. -27 exports for both air and sea.

REPORT: Gap between container delivery and vessel reliability

There is a gap that ranges from 8 to 52 percentage points depending upon the global shipping tradelane between container delivery and vessel reliability, according to an industry metrics report.

The Container Shipping Reliability Report's data is provided by the online ocean shipping platform INTTRA and analyzed by SeaIntel from what both parties say are out of an average of 900,000-1,000,000 container status messages processed daily from online shipping transactions that represent over 18 percent of total global container shipments.

The Asia to Europe and Asia to North America trades show container delivery gaps that are 8-10 percentage points lower than the vessel reliability, the report said.

In the Europe to Australia/New Zealand tradelane where vessel reliability for direct service has been 88 percent, container delivery has been at only 36 percent reliability for a difference of 52 percentage points, according to the report.

The INTTRA-SeaIntel report also revealed improvements in overall on-time performance for the global ocean shipping sector with on-time delivery in June improving to 64 percent from 61 percent in May.

Asia to Europe on-time delivery was up 9 percent to 74 percent to date in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. Asia-Mediterranean performance was up 22 percent to 68 percent for the same period, the report said.

"The analysis of the on-time delivery on the direct services from China to various European countries revealed a strong correlation in the number of direct services and on-time performance. In markets where there are more direct services the performance in on-time container delivery for all participants is higher," the report said.

Maersk to continue calling Port of Seattle

The Port of Seattle announced that Denmark's Maersk Line has renewed its agreement with SSA Marine to continue calling the operator's Terminal 18 via the TP9 shared service with France's CMA CGM that utilizes 8 vessels each.

"This is great news for the Port of Seattle," said Tay Yoshitani, Port of Seattle CEO in a statement. 

The announcement on the Maersk renewal follows news from earlier this year that the Grand Alliance of Hapag-Lloyd, NYK and Orient Overseas Container Line, in addition to Hamburg-Süd and ZIM, would leave the Port of Seattle and start calling Washington United Terminal at nearby Port of Tacoma, which commenced this month.

Explosion on MSC ship reportedly kills crewmember, one missing

There was an explosion on a containership chartered by Mediterranean Shipping Company, and owned by Germany's Reederei NSB, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after the vessel had departed the Port of Charleston on July 8, according to news reports.

The 2,876-TEU Flamina was reportedly on its way to a port in Belgium when a fire broke out as the subsequent explosion critically injured a crewmember who died later from the burns, as another crewmember went missing, and the rest of the 22 crew and two passengers were rescued from a lifeboat and raft by an oil tanker that was first on scene.

The explosion occurred when the ship was almost 1,000 miles from England and out of range for rescue helicopters. The vessel was still burning as of Monday night. No cause of the incident has officially been reported.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Top Story

CSX improves profits in Q2 with auto shipments, intermodal offsetting coal slump

CSX, the largest railroad on the U.S. eastern region, reported better than expected second quarter profits, offsetting declining domestic coal loads with an increase in consumer goods sectors, including auto and intermodal shipments.

CSX income, which dropped 14 percent in the coal segment, jumped 10 percent in intermodal shipping and 34 percent in auto shipping.

"Once you strip out coal, total volumes are up 4.1 percent," said Logan Purk, an Edward Jones analyst, to Reuters. "There's healthy growth in the portfolio, and that's fueled by intermodal and automotive for the most part."

Net income increased to 49 cents per share, or $512 million, from 46 cents per share, or $506 million, year on year, according to this week's CSX announcement. Wall street analysts had predicted the company would land at 47 cents a share in Q2, reports Reuters.

For more of this Reuters article:

June container volume rises for ports of L.A. and Long Beach

Los Angeles and Long Beach, the highest volume port complex in the U.S., had a good month in June, with both port locations showing moderate growth, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In June, considered a peak season, the Port of Los Angeles moved 696,848 TEUs, an 8.75 percent increase from last year. The Port of Long Beach moved 554,269 TEUs, a 0.2 percent year on year increase.

L.A. saw an increase of 6 percent in imports and 6.9 percent in exports for June 2012, compared to June 2011. Long Beach imports climbed 3 percent, and exports rose by 5 percent.

In coming months, the seaport complex may enjoy further increased volume. The International Longshoremen's Association at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports has been slow in agreeing to a new labor contract, and the current one expires in September. Some retailers, anticipating a shutdown, are already planning to redirect shipments through the West Coast.

For more of the Los Angeles Times story:

Maersk to raise U.S.-to-Australia rates in August

Container shipping giant Maersk Line will raise dry and reefer shipment rates in August for all such cargo being shipped from the U.S. to Oceania, which includes Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

U.S.-to-Oceania rates will increase by $175-per-TEU and $350-per-FEU on August 15.

Global piracy declines 54 percent in first half of 2012

According to the International Maritime Bureau, piracy worldwide plunged 54 percent in the first six months of 2012, thanks in large part to the vigilance of international navies patrolling the waters off of Somalia.

In addition to naval diligence, the IMB attributed the drop to an increase of private security on board.

177 attacks were counted globally from January to June, down from 266 in the same period last year, the IMB announced. Reportedly, 20 vessels were hijacked in 2012, 334 crew were taken hostage and at least four crewmembers were killed. As of late June 11 vessels and 218 crewmembers remain in pirate hands, said IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan to the Huffington Post.

Attacks off the coast of Somalia dropped to 69 from January to June of 2012, from 163 a year earlier, the IMB said.

Another report by the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea warned that pirate bands are adjusting to the new obstacles by engaging in new criminal acts, such as ransom kidnappings on land of aid workers, journalists and tourists.

For more of the Huffington Post story:


Friday, July 20, 2012

No Newswire today.


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