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Summary for November 2 - November 6, 2009:
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Top Story

Credit Managers’ Index shows expansion for U.S. manufacturing

The “Great Recession” is over as U.S. manufacturing expands, according to the report for the month of October published by the National Association of Credit Management (NACM) in its Credit Managers’ Index (CMI).

The manufacturing sector passed the 50 mark in October, as the NACM cited this development as “rapid expansion.”

As noted in September’s report, the data has been building to this point, the NACM said. Other indexes such as the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) issued by the Institute of Supply Management are mirroring the CMI “and that is generally a good sign for the manufacturing sector,” the NACM said.

According to the CMI, the recovery started slowly in the last few months and will continue to progress slowly, however the end of October showed strong third quarter GDP numbers at 3.5 percent growth after four negative quarters and that credit availability pushed the CMI past the 50 neutral barrier for the first time in over a year.

The NACM pointed to four factors in the third quarter’s up-tick in GDP: the impact of the stimulus package; the “Cash for Clunkers” program; the $8,000 new home-buyer credit, and the Fed keeping interest rates low.

Since September, the service sector has bumped from 48.2 to 50.9, despite lower than normal inventories in retail.

The CMI is based upon numbers under 50 indicating contraction and numbers over 50 considered to be growth indicators.

China’s manufacturing grew at fastest rate in October

China's manufacturing sector grew in October at its fastest rate in 18 months, a survey has suggested.

The purchasing managers index (PMI) from the state-sanctioned China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing rose to 55.2 from 54.3 in September.

The survey is a further sign of the strength of the recovery in the Chinese economy, which grew at an annual rate of 8.9% between July and September.

Many major economies are only just starting to grow after long recessions.

Any figure above 50 in the survey indicates growth in the manufacturing sector.

October is the eighth month in a row that the sector has expanded, after six months of decline.

-BBC News

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MSC announces rate increases for Europe, Med. to N. America

Mediterranean Shipping Company, the second largest container shipping in the world, announced general rate increases for imported cargo arriving from North Europe and the Mediterranean to the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Effective December 1, the shipping group said shipping rates would increase $250 per-TEU, $350 per-TEU, and $350 per-FEU on cargo arriving from North Europe and the Mediterranean to Canada and U.S. Midwest via Canada.

Freight arriving from N. Europe and the Mediterranean to Mexico will increase $ 250 per-TEU and $350 per 49-foot container, MSC said.

Effective January 1, 2010, the carrier said rates for cargo North Europe and the Mediterranean to the U.S. would increase $400 per container.

Freight rail line through California wine country could re-open next year

After years of delay, a state-funded rail agency has finished repairing the Northwestern Pacific freight line in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties, paving the way for a return of cargo service early next year.

U.S. rail regulators shut down cargo traffic in 1998 after the storm-battered railroad failed safety inspections. They must certify that it's now safe for trains.

Freight service could start by next March, according to NCRA.

Besides animal feed, the railroad will haul rock, lumber, wine and other commodities.

Service will start with three round trips per week, growing to three trips per day in future years, the authority said.

--Santa Rosa Press-Democrat

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Russian cargo plane crashes; 11 dead

A cargo aircraft crashed soon after taking off from the eastern Russian city of Mirny in Yakutia region, killing all 11 people on board, Russian prosecutors said on Sunday.

The plane, an IL-76 belonging to the interior ministry, crashed about 1 km from Mirny at the start of a flight to Irkutsk, the investigative committee of the Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement.

Russia has one of the world's worst air safety records, with elderly Soviet-era planes, dated airport facilities, poor plane maintenance and lax standards contributing to a grim crash toll.

An interior ministry press service official told the Russian television channel Vesti the plane rolled to the right immediately after take-off.


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Ship collisions in China cause oil spills

Chinese workers are trying to clean up dangerous chemicals in the central reaches of the Yangtze river and an oil spill near an eastern Chinese port, after two shipping accidents this weekend.

Workers in Central Hubei province were trying to contain and retrieve 100 tonnes of hydrochloric acid carried by a ship that sunk in the Yangtze River after colliding with another vessel early on Sunday, the Xinhua news agency said.

Meanwhile, maritime workers in Zhoushan near the Yangshan port in Zhejiang province were cleaning an oil spill after an Iranian container ship, the Zoorik, ran aground on a rocky island in bad weather, Xinhua said.


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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Top Story

BNSF to Buffet for $34 bil

The second largest U.S. railroad, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, is expected to become a wholly owned subsidiary of the holding company owned by the second-richest man in the world, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, for $100 per share in cash and stock, or $34 billion.

Subject to regulatory approval and two-thirds approval of the non-Berkshire outstanding shares, the deal would reportedly close in the first quarter of 2010. Berkshire announced the BNSF would continue to operate from its Fort Worth, Texas headquarters with no immediate changes in leadership expected.

The BNSF deal would be the largest in the history of Berkshire-Hathaway and was priced 31.5 percent over BNSF's closing stock price on Monday.

“Our country’s future prosperity depends on its having an efficient and well-maintained rail system,” said Warren E. Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and chief executive officer in a statement on the deal.

“Most important of all, however, it’s an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States,” said Buffett. “I love these bets.”

Berkshire Hathaway currently owns 22.6 percent of BNSF stock, and will now acquire the remaining 77.4 percent of outstanding common stock of BNSF that it does not already own. The transaction is valued at approximately $44 billion, including $10 billion of outstanding BNSF debt, making it the largest acquisition in Berkshire Hathaway history.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to become a part of the Berkshire Hathaway family,” said Matthew K. Rose, Burlington Northern Santa Fe chairman, president and chief executive officer. “We admire Warren’s leadership philosophy supporting long-term investment that will allow BNSF to focus on future needs of our railroad, our customers and the U.S. transportation infrastructure. This transaction offers compelling value to our shareholders and is in the best interests of all of our constituents including our customers and employees.”

Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Evercore Partners, Inc. acted as financial advisors to BNSF and the company’s legal counsel is Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP. Berkshire Hathaway’s transaction counsel is Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Top Story

Westbound trans-Pacific carriers
to raise rates

The shipping line members of the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (WTSA) announced the proposal of a new series of general rate increases (GRIs) on December 1, 2009 and January 15, 2010, impacting all containerized cargoes to Asia.

Effective December 1, the WTSA lines said they plan to raise rates $100 per-FEU and $80 per-TEU for cargo originating at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach; and by $150 per-FEU and $120 per-TEU for all other dry cargo, including other West Coast ports, all-water shipments via the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts, and intermodal moves.

As of January 15, 2010, the WTSA said it plans to increase rates $250 per-FEU and $200 per-TEU for all U.S. West Coast shipments, and $300 per-FEU and $240 per-TEU for intermodal and U.S. East/Gulf Coast all-water cargo.

“Trans-Pacific carriers continue to see their fixed operating costs rise as freight rates decline in both directions,” said WTSA Executive Administrator Brian M. Conrad.

“The headhaul trade from Asia can’t subsidize the outbound segment, credit remains tight and lines have already scaled back on vessels, port calls, routes and back office functions. The only way carriers can survive financially, meet rising U.S. export demand and maintain adequate service levels is through improved revenues,” he said.

WTSA members include: APL, Ltd., Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., Ltd., COSCO Container Lines, Ltd., Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. (K Line), Evergreen Line, Nippon Yusen Kaisha (N.Y.K. Line), Hanjin Shipping Co., Ltd., Orient Overseas Container Line, Inc., Hapag Lloyd AG, Yangming Marine Transport Corp.

ACL to raise North Atlantic rates in Dec. and Feb.

Atlantic Container Line (ACL) announced it would raise container rates in the North Atlantic trade.

Between North Europe and North America, ACL’s shipping rates will go up $300 per-TEU, and $600 per-FEU as of December 1 of this year.

As of February 1, 2010, rates will increase another $250 per-TEU and $350 per-FEU in the same trade.

“The North Atlantic has experienced a significant deterioration in freight levels during the course of 2009,” ACL said in a statement. “At the same time, cost levels have been impacted by rising fuel prices and the declining dollar resulting in an untenable situation.”

Seven companies vie for zero-emission goods movement
technology in Southern Cal

The Port of Long Beach announced that it would soon begin a thorough review of seven companies presenting a zero-emission system to transport cargo containers.

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA) said they are seeking a new, non-polluting technology to move containers between the marine terminals and an intermodal rail yard next to West Long Beach.

The ports, ACTA and independent experts including the USC Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy will evaluate the proposals.

The Port of Long Beach said the evaluation is expected to be completed by spring 2010, and by summer of 2010, ACTA could issue a Request for Proposals for design, construction and operation of the system.

The seven companies vying for the zero-emissions project are: American Maglev Technology of Florida Inc.; Bombardier; Flight Rail Corp.; Freight Shuttle Partners; Innovative Transportation Systems Corp.; Magna Force Inc., and Tetra Tech Inc.

Pacer Intl. Shares soar on UP contact deal

Shares of Pacer International Inc. soared Wednesday after the logistics service provider announced a surprise profit in the third quarter and a new contract with railroad Union Pacific.

Pacer stock climbed 89 cents, or 32.8 percent, to $3.60 in morning trading. The stock is still down 77 percent in the year to date.
Late Tuesday, Pacer posted a quarterly profit of $600,000, or 2 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a loss of a penny per share.

The company also said it extended and expanded its contract with Union Pacific, giving it continued access to the entire rail network and equipment sharing arrangements. Pacer received a payment of $30 million under the deal.


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GSC Logistics meets new CARB regs ahead of schedule

GSC Logistics, Inc., (GSC) announced that its truck fleet, as of Oct. 1, met the new emission regulations mandated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), three months ahead of the January 2010 directive for clean drayage equipment operating at the Port of Oakland, Calif.

GSC said it operates its “green” fleet throughout California’s San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, North Bay, Central Valley, and Reno/Sparks, Nevada region.

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