Panjiva data points to seasonal growth pattern in global trade

A seasonal economic growth pattern appears to be shaping up based on the most recent set of data from Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers.

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A seasonal economic growth pattern appears to be shaping up based on the most recent set of data from Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers.

Coming off of a 4 percent gain in United States-bound waterborne shipments from January to February, shipments from March to April saw a 7 percent bump with 959,364 shipments, said Panjiva. And the number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S.—at 139,337 was up 6 percent.

Even though the last two months of shipment data have been on the right track, prior months have shown an uneven ride, with a 17 percent increase from December to January and down 14 percent from November to December. Waterborne shipments have been down sequentially in six of the last eight months.

“This data is pretty solid,” Panjiva CEO Josh Green told Modern. “Certainly, I would expect to see a seasonal increase, but the increase from March to April this year was healthier than last year’s March to April increase. We were essentially running around 2010 levels of activity, but with the bump April 2011 shipments came in ahead of April 2010 by about 2 percent.”

Green explained that the hope with these numbers is that global trade is picking up steam. But he cautioned that a few more months of positive data is needed, as there are still clouds on the horizon in the form of a declining Euro, the U.S. recently announcing it has reached its debt ceiling, and consumer spending patterns, which if negative, will have a negative impact on global trade.

With manufacturing data being strong for more than a year, that has benefited global shipment numbers. And some experts maintain that any type of economic recovery occurring is a manufacturing-led one. Green’s take on that assessment was mixed.

“The manufacturing sector is stronger than it has been in some time, but I am not a believer in the manufacturing-led economy, as strength in manufacturing is a bet that consumer confidence will grow,” said Green. “If that does not materialize, a manufacturing-led economy will disappear quite quickly—and any gains in the manufacturing sector will end up being temporary. There won’t be the demand to justify the supply.”

Looking ahead, Green said continued growth is expected through August, which will serve as the high point for the year, adding that April to May is typically a big bounce, with a 5-to-10 percent sequential increase in shipments possible based on seasonal trends. Anything less than 5 percent will be disappointing, he said, and anything higher than 10 percent will be a definitive indication that the recovery is gaining steam.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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