RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index: Unclear tendencies of world trade

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The Container Throughput Index of the Rheinisch-Westfälische Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI) and the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) has fallen considerably from a revised 119.7 to 117.8. However, the current tendency is unclear because the already high flash forecast for February was revised upwards by one index point. Larger revisions of February data are not untypical because of Chinese New Year’s Feast. The first quarter’s average is 118.6 and thereby exceeds the value of the fourth quarter 2015 by 0.9 index points. This indicates an upward tendency of the world trade while the weak value in March advises caution. The March flash estimate is based on data of 36 ports representing two thirds of the throughput included in the index.

The index is based on data of 81 world container ports covering approximately 60% of worldwide container handling. The ports are continuously monitored by the ISL as part of their market analysis. Because large parts of international merchandise trade are transported by ship, the development of port handling is a good indicator for world trade. As many ports release information about their activities only two weeks after the end of the respective month, the RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index is a reliable early indicator for the development of international merchandise trade and hence for the activity of the global economy.

The RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index for April 2016 will be published on May 24th.

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