Sun Kwang Newport Container Terminal in Incheon, South Korea. Video: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg 

Inflation and Supply-Chain Logjams Are Bad Mix for Slowing Bloomberg Trade Tracker

Updated:

Supply-chain stresses are exacerbating global inflation, threatening to further pressure slowing global goods trade.

The latest evidence of a softening in shipments: Throughput at some of the world’s busiest ports took another hit in April. Indicators across Los Angeles, Singapore, and Hong Kong remain below long-run averages, with LA’s inbound containers at their lowest this year as ships pile up waiting to dock.

The weaker port figures match stories of companies and officials who are still strained by supply-chain issues emanating from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as backlogs due to persistent Covid-related lockdowns in China—including at the world’s largest container port in Shanghai.

The tensions were plain to see in mid-May for politicians, economists and investors gathered for a Latin American economic forum alongside the Panama Canal, where queuing ships outstripped the average so far in 2022.

Now, rampant inflation is likely to add to the pressures on goods. Strong US demand helped buoy some Asian exporters earlier this year as orders from China slid. But there, too, the American shopper is showing more hesitation. Retail giants like Walmart and Target are flagging pain through year-end as higher costs pinch household budgets and set up a tricky calculus for businesses trying to adjust prices delicately.

We’ve selected measures across shipping, sentiment and export volumes to watch. For the clearest indication, we measured how far each gauge is from historic norms.

How the indicators compare 👆

Latest data available for shipping, sentiment and export volume indicators, z-scores*