18 January 2001, 10:52  Import and export volumes fell sharply in November and December

Import and export volumes fell sharply in November and December from prior months but remained elevated from a robust year-ago period, suggesting a "normal" seasonal downturn, say cargo and port executives. The nation's two largest ports saw a sharp 15% drop in import volumes and a 5% decline in export volumes during November from October -- but together saw gains of 7.3% inbound and 2.8% outbound from a year ago. December trade flows fell a bit further from November, but were also elevated vs. the prior year, with seasonal fluctuations accounting for the flatter showing, they say. Import flows were actually quite impressive given the comparison to a year ago when Y2K inventory-building meant especially robust cargo volumes entering U.S. ports into early January, they add. Given these circumstances, many are feeling surprisingly positive about 2001 and are downplaying concerns about a looming recession.

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