MAY 23, 2013 — A highly-regarded indicator of the health of the container shipping market took a dip in April. The Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI) and the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) report that their Container Throughput Index "sank considerably" in April to 114.7 after a (corrected) value of 116.7 in March after seasonal adjustment.
This indicates that the volume of international merchandise trade has decreased.
"However, setbacks of similar size have been registered on several occasions during the past and were often equalized the following month," say the two organizations. "Therefore, it remains to be seen whether the recent decline actually marks a downward trend of world trade."
The March value was only revised slightly downwards by 0.1 points. The amplitude of the revision was far below average. The current flash forecast for April is based on a sample of 41 ports handling roughly 75 percent of the traffic represented in the Index.
The Index is based on data on 73 world container ports covering approximately 60% of worldwide container handling. The ports are continuously monitored by the ISL as part of its market analysis. 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 seen as a reliable early indicator for the development of international merchandise trade and thus for the activity of the global economy.