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China shipments are way down, but U.S. ports are still struggling

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A U.S. flag is seen on the container ship President Eisenhower in a seaport in Qingdao city in east China’s Shandong province Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021.

Yu Fangpin | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Ocean carriers continue to cite congestion at U.S. and Canadian ports as the reason for canceling sailings in September, a cut in vessel service that has been flagged in previous CNBC reporting, and the latest CNBC Supply Chain Heat Map shows the congestion is not subsiding.

“It comes as no surprise ocean carriers are blanking (canceling) sailings,” said Alan Baer, CEO of OL USA. “It needs to be done to regain some sort of schedule reliability.”

The result is that all of these vessels will now be out of position for return voyages, moving containers, loading U.S. exports, and ultimately being in a position to load imports.

“A lot of this was the result of moving freight away from USWC arrivals due to labor disruption risk,” Baer said. 

MarineTraffic has tracked an increase in the number of vessels anchored off the East Coast and Gulf ports.

More complications for East Coast ports are anticipated as a result of the strike at Felixstowe, which may hit U.S. imports once the backlog starts to get sorted out, according to  Captain Adil Ashiq, United States Western Region executive for MarineTraffic.

“This means Holiday goods could end up reaching shelves closer to the start of the holiday season — it may prudent to seek alternative modes of transport if possible,” Ashiq said.

According to MarineTraffic data, Port of Savannah has 39 vessels at anchor. In the Gulf, at the Port of Houston, there are 22 cargo ships at anchor.

The port congestion has ocean carriers, most recently MSC, announcing modifications to its vessel schedule. In July, Seko Logistics and Worldwide Logistics explained to shippers the East Coast congestion was impacting the arrivals of vessels back to Port of Shenzen for reloading.

The increase of containers on the East Coast is benefiting the warehouse sector, with warehousing costs increasing fast on the East Coast, up 8 percent since January, according to Jordan Brunk, CMO of WarehouseQuote.

Pricing on the West Coast has decreased consistently for the past two months, but Brunk still described rates as “expensive.” But he added, “We are seeing a shift of freight that was traditionally held on the West Coast now moving to the Northeast and Southwest.”

China, manufacturing orders and ocean bookings

All the congestion at the ports is skewing the impact of the decrease in container bookings as a result of the pullback in manufacturing orders. FreightWaves SONAR shows future import container orders continue to drop.

Ocean booking levels from China to the major West and East Coast ports remain well off their two year highs according to Tony Mulvey, senior analyst at FreightWaves.

“As booking levels, which indicate future import volumes, continue their descent, peak season demand on the ocean looks muted,” Mulvey said. “Softer demand on the ocean is leading to carriers increasing the number of blank sailings in an effort to slow the rapid decline in Trans-Pacific spot rates.”

Unlike last year, and even just months ago, when space was in extreme shortage, currently space is open for all lanes and ocean carriers are pushing for more bookings with freight adjustment weekly and some daily, according to OrientStar Group.

The latest ocean freight rates tracked by Freightos show the China to West Coast rate is down six percent, at $5,759. China to the East Coast is down 3 percent, at $9,184. On the flip side, Europe to North America and China to Europe are both up because of massive port congestion due to the strike at Felixstowe and the previous labor strife in Germany.

On Wednesday, a deal was announced between the union ver.di and the German ports, but Crane said it will take until the first quarter of 2023 for the congestion to be cleared.

Sources with knowledge of the German deal tell CNBC, the union will make their final descision in two weeks. The agreement includes a retroacive 9.4 percent pay increase starting July first for the container sector, followed by another increase of 4.4 percent starting June first of 2023. The deal was approved by union negotiation committee by a vote of 18-2. There will be no more strikes until March 2024.

The current strike at Felixstowe is slowing down $4.7 billion in trade. Andreas Braun, Europe, Middle East, and Africa ocean product director of Crane Worldwide Logistics, told CNBC it will take at least two months for the backup of containers to be cleared out.

The union Unite has warned the port disruption could last until Christmas if the ten percent pay demand is not met. Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, says CK Hutchison Holdings, the company which owns the port, can afford the raise as a result of its record profits.

“The ripple effects of the strike will hinge greatly on how long it lasts,” said Josh Brazil, vice president of supply chain insights at Project44. “If the strike action goes for the full eight days or longer, massive delays will be seen across the UK, with spillover effects into the EU as containers get diverted to other ports such as Rotterdam or Le Havre. What’s more, many UK and EU ports are already experiencing maximum capacity volumes, so their ability to handle even more may be limited,” Brazil said. 

According to bills of lading items leaving Felixstowe, companies including AmazonGeneral Mills, Loreal, GSK, Bacardi, Kellogg, Mars Foods, Diageo, the company which owns Guinness, and Suntory, which owns Jim Beam, all use the port to transport their products.

The strike will also impact U.S. companies and industries that export to the U.K. Levi’s and Black & Decker export to this port, as does Mallory Transportation, which moves motorcycles; J.F. Hillebrand, which transports California wine; Ocean Spray, Nutrition and Biosciences (which merged with IFF), and Brown Forman, the company that owns Jack Daniels. Becton Dickinson and Archer Daniels Midland also export their products to this port.

The CNBC Supply Chain Heat Map data providers are artificial intelligence and predictive analytics company Everstream Analytics; global freight booking platform Freightos, creator of the Freightos Baltic Dry Index; logistics provider OL USA; supply chain intelligence platform FreightWaves; supply chain platform Blume Global; third-party logistics provider Orient Star Group; marine analytics firm MarineTraffic; maritime visibility data company Project44; maritime transport data company MDS Transmodal UK; ocean and air freight rate benchmarking and market analytics platform Xeneta; leading provider of research and analysis Sea-Intelligence ApS; Crane Worldwide Logistics; and air, DHL Global Forwarding; freight logistics provider Seko Logistics; and Planet,  provider of global, daily satellite imagery and geospatial solutions. 



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Three pharmaceutical stocks were top performers last week

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George Clooney, Gladys Knight among Kennedy Center honorees

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken, second from left, and his wife, Evan Ryan, left, join 2022 Kennedy Center Honorees, front row from left, Amy Grant, Gladys Knight, George Clooney, Tania León, and Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter, back row from left, Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein, along with fellow 2022 Honorees Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr., The Edge, and Bono for a group photo at the State Department following the Kennedy Center Honors gala dinner, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Washington.

Kevin Wolf | AP Photo

Performers such as Gladys Knight or the Irish band U2 usually would be headlining a concert for thousands but at Sunday’s Kennedy Center Honors the tables will be turned as they and other artists will be the ones feted for their lifetime of artistic contributions.

Actor, director, producer and human rights activist George Clooney, groundbreaking composer and conductor Tania León, and contemporary Christian singer Amy Grant will join Knight and the entire crew of U2 in being honored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The organization honors a select group of people every year for their artistic influences on American culture. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their respective spouses are slated to attend.

The 61-year-old Clooney — the actor among this year’s musically leaning group of honorees — has television credits going back into the late 1970s but became a household name with the role of Doug Ross on the television show “ER.” conductor Tania León, and

From there he starred in movies such as “Three Kings,” “Ocean’s Eleven” (and “Twelve” and “Thirteen”), “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and his most recent film, “Ticket to Paradise.” He also has extensive directing and producing credits including “Good Night, and Good Luck.” He and his wife, humanitarian rights lawyer Amal Clooney, created the Clooney Foundation for Justice, and he’s produced telethons to raise money for various causes.

“To be mentioned in the same breath with the rest of these incredible artists is an honor. This is a genuinely exciting surprise for the whole Clooney family,” said Clooney in a statement on the Center’s website.

Knight, 78, said in a statement that she was “humbled beyond words” at receiving the Kennedy honor. The Georgia-born Knight began singing gospel music at the age of 4 and went on to a career that has spanned decades.

Knight and family members started a band that would later be known as Gladys Knight & The Pips and produced their first album in 1960 when Knight was just 16. Since then she’s recorded dozens of albums with such classic hits as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Along the way she’s acted in television shows and movies. When Knight and the band were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Mariah Carey described Knight as “a textbook you learn from.”

Sometimes the Kennedy Center honors not just individuals but groups; “Sesame Street” once got the nod.

This year it’s the band U2. The group’s strong connection to America goes back decades. They performed in Washington during their first trip to America in 1980. In a statement the band — made up of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. — said they originally came to America with big dreams “fueled in part by the commonly held belief at home that America smiles on Ireland.”

“And it turned out to be true, yet again,” read the statement. “It has been a four-decade love affair with the country and its people, its artists, and culture.”

U2 has sold 170 million albums and been honored with 22 Grammys. The band’s epic singles include “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Lead singer Bono has also become known for his philanthropic work to eradicate poverty and to raise awareness about AIDS.

Christian music performed Amy Grant said in an interview with The Associated Press that she’d never even been to the Kennedy Center Honors even though her husband, country musician Vince Gill, has performed during previous ceremonies. Grammy winner Grant is well known for crossover pop hits like “Baby, Baby,” “Every Heartbeat” and “That’s What Love is For.” She’s sold more than 30 million albums, including her 1991 record “Heart in Motion,” which introduced her to a larger pop audience.

Composer and conductor León said during an interview when the honorees were announced that she wasn’t expecting “anything spectacular” when the Kennedy Center initially reached out to her. After all, she’s worked with the Kennedy Center numerous times over the years going back to 1980, when she was commissioned to compose music for a play.

But the 79-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner said she was stunned to learn that this time the ceremony was going to be for her.

León left Cuba as a refugee in 1967 and eventually settled in New York City. She’s a founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem and instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series.



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Michigan couple teaches people how to start lucrative side hustles

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In 2020, Jamie and Sarah McCauley filmed themselves ripping, repainting and restoring thrifted furniture. They resold the items, made more than $1,000 in profit and posted the results on YouTube.

Within a week, the video received 20,000 views. The McCauleys, who live off a variety of concurrently running side hustles, sensed opportunity. They started posting more videos about their other streams of income, which include rental properties, house flipping projects and reselling return pallets from Amazon and Target.

Teaching people how to build those types of hustles has proved lucrative: In the last year, the McCauleys made $102,000 from their YouTube and other social media channels, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.

That averages out to $8,500 per month. During their best month of the year, they brought in $9,000.

The McCauleys say some of their furniture flips are as simple as staging and taking fresh photos of the product.

Jamie and Sarah McCauley

“We started to realize: This is a great way for people to make extra money if they have bills, or they just aren’t able to pay their rent, or they want to go on a nice vacation with their family,” Sarah says. “Anyone can do it.”

But of all their income streams, Jamie says their YouTube and social media presence is the most stressful to manage.

Here’s how they built it, and what goes into maintaining it.

How to build a social media career

Jamie and Sarah knew the ins and outs of social media from years of running a successful wedding photography business, which at its height made $150,000 per year, Jamie says.

But after having two children, the couple realized they didn’t want to spend weekends away from their family. So they started buying, renovating and renting out properties around west Michigan, hoping for a more passive income stream that would encourage schedule flexibility.

It worked, and the extra time allowed them to embrace a variety of side hustles. They got the idea to post their furniture and property-flipping adventures on YouTube in 2019, and immediately found it challenging.

Initially, Jamie worked 30 hours per week on the YouTube project alone, with Sarah working an additional 10 — on top of their efforts to sell two flipped houses and manage their photography business.

It took them a full year to hit 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time, making them eligible for Google AdSense, a feature that allows creators to monetize their YouTube videos with advertisements.

“We weren’t really sure where home design or flipping or photography or YouTube would lead us,” Sarah says. “But we knew if we put ourselves out there, it would open more opportunities.”

Flipping pros and cons

There are a couple of clear-cut benefits to flipping and reselling furniture and home décor online, especially during times of economic uncertainty, Sarah says.

For instance, more people are willing to hunt for deals on eBay and Facebook Marketplace when times are tough, instead of frequenting their usual retail stores.

“When a recession hits, people don’t want to pay full price for things,” she says. “Thrift stores thrive during recessions, and I think resellers do, too, because people are trying to save money in any way they can.”

Unlike real estate, the gambles of buying and reselling furniture are minimal in both price and risk, the McCauleys say. There’s less of a financial investment, and Sarah says she’s broken even on every flip.

The McCauleys say they staged and resold this $50 Facebook Marketplace dresser for $300.

Jamie and Sarah McCauley

The couple says one of their best flips was a mid-century dresser they bought for $50 on Facebook Marketplace. All they had to do was stage and take a nice photo of the dresser before reselling it for $300.

Sometimes, after buying furniture, the couple realizes the items have more flaws than they expected. Usually, this means investing more time and money into fixing up the piece, which can affect the item’s eventual sale value, they say.

In those cases, “we just get our money back instead of gaining a huge profit, but we’ve never really lost money from it,” Sarah says.

Costs and effect

Going a full year without making any money from YouTube was difficult, the McCauleys say. And simply qualifying for AdSense didn’t guarantee the big bucks.

“The slower growth and the inconsistency of it, it’s been more of a mental struggle to keep pushing and believing the process,” Jamie says. “Now, we’re in a better spot, but throughout that two-year period, it was a question of, ‘Is this what we should be doing? Is this going to work out?'”

In 2020, the couple felt a shift, they say. Their videos started going viral more regularly, and brands like Skillshare, Beyond Paint and HelloFresh reached out to them with partnership opportunities.

The sudden attention was overwhelming, and they didn’t immediately know which brands to trust. These days, the McCauleys work with an agency that vets the brands and sets up contracts for them, claiming an 18% from a number of those partnerships, they say.

Sarah says she often notices undervalued items at Goodwill, which she resells for a profit on sites like eBay.

Jamie and Sarah McCauley

Inside a renovated $155,000 old mansion in North Carolina



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