Sun Kwang Newport Container Terminal in Incheon, South Korea. Video: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg 
Three Reasons
to Believe in
the Boom on
Trade Tracker
By Michelle Jamrisko,
Chloe Whiteaker and Cedric Sam
Updated: April 20, 2021, 7:30 PM PDT
Asia’s electronics powerhouses and the Port of Los Angeles just gave three more reasons to believe that even with all the uncertainties around the global pandemic recovery, goods trade looks to be doing just fine.
Taiwan export orders posted another blockbuster print, rising 33.3% year-on-year in March. And over the past few weeks we’ve also gotten more affirmation of the semiconductor binge, with critical chipmaker TSMC reporting better-than-expected earnings and seeing the semiconductor crunch lasting into 2022.
South Korea’s first-20-day shipments surged 45.4% in April, due in part to a low base from a year earlier, but also revealing especially strong volumes and widespread demand by region and product.
Analysts at HSBC are seeing a still-strong 2021 for the electronics sector that’ll continue to lift Asia’s trade engines as well as global goods trade. “It’s not just semiconductors that are ’on fire’: broader demand for electronics, from consumer to industrial goods, keeps on strengthening,” they said in an April 14 report.
The Port of Los Angeles, for its part, exploded with imports in March, sending that gauge more than eight standard deviations above its long-run average. Ports globally are dealing with backlogs in unloading container ships (including in neighbor Oakland, where the backup is arguably worse), and it’s not just the Suez Canal squeeze that has them behind schedule. Demand is overwhelming the local labor and infrastructure needed to process it.
Elsewhere on Bloomberg’s Trade Tracker, we can expect some noise in year-over-year readings that are compared to abysmal second-quarter prints last year. But where base effects are not an issue, positive signs abound.
We’ve selected measures across shipping, sentiment and export volumes to watch for signs of stress amid the tensions. 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*
Below normal
Normal range
Above normal
Port of LA Cargo
Processes about 40% of the world’s containers
May 2020
Singapore Throughput
World’s second-busiest port by volume
May 2020
Hong Kong Port Cargo
A key North Asia trans-shipment port
May 2020
Baltic Dry Index
Tracks changes in cost of moving raw materials
May 20202021April
German Expectations
Business expectations of about 7,000 firms surveyed by IFO
May 20202021April
U.S. New Exports
Exports outlook from 300 managers in 18 industries surveyed by ISM
May 20202021April
China New Exports
Export views from 3,000 manufacturing firms
May 20202021April
Singapore Electronics
PMI of 150+ firms’ views on electronics exports
May 20202021April
Country Export Volumes
Korea Exports
Key export hub’s volumes for month’s first 20 days
May 20202021April
Taiwan Exports
Tracks key supply-chain hub for electronics
May 2020
In addition to the 10 primary gauges, four price indicators provide another valuable glimpse into the global trade landscape, albeit sometimes in reverse as an increase in prices can be a sign of trouble. The coronavirus outbreak interrupted both supply and demand at the start of 2020, with Chinese factories halting production and orders slowing across the region as businesses and consumers grappled with travel restrictions, school and office closures, and uneven policy responses.
U.S. Imports
Cost of imported consumer and business goods
May 2020
China Electronics
Chinese electronics export price changes
May 2020
Europe Producer
Eurozone PPI excluding construction
May 2020
CRB Metals
Commodities index, gives lead on Asia exports
May 20202021April
With the assistance of: Justin Jimenez, Rahul Kapoor, Tom Orlik, Elaine To, Jeremy Scott Diamond and Richard Eldred
Edited by: Malcolm Scott and Nasreen Seria
Source: Data compiled by Bloomberg
Note: First published Nov. 5, 2018.
Bloomberg Economics compiled a group of critical global trade indicators across shipping, sentiment, exports and prices using input from economists and analysts within and beyond the company. The 14 gauges are each judged based on a z-score, or distance from their long-term average, with one standard deviation providing the upper- and lower-end range for a “normal” score. A z-score equal to 0 represents an average value.
Longer-run averages were calculated from January 2003 to December 2017 for all but four indicators. Korea Exports 20-Day started reporting in November 2004, IFO German Expectations and China PMI New Exports started reporting in January 2005, and China Electronics started reporting in January 2007. The averages for these indicators are from their earliest reporting through December 2017. Baltic Dry Index and CRB Metals are daily indicators, so the long-term average and standard deviation for each was calculated using daily data, while z-scores were calculated for the monthly average.
Index-level readings are employed for the sentiment indicators, as well as the Baltic Dry and CRB Metals Spot indices; all other gauges are judged by year-on-year growth.
Share this article
Green Energy in America Needs a Lot More Land: Map
April 29, 2021
Tracking Carbon Emissions Becomes Harder When Big Oil Isn’t Involved
April 14, 2021
The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’ Smashes Records After Super Bowl Show
March 9, 2021
Trump’s Ailing Empire: His Fortune Slips to $2.3 Billion as Covid and Riot Take a Toll
March 17, 2021
Justin Bieber’s Justice Sends Him Back to the Top of the Charts
April 21, 2021
How Batteries Work: Inside The Batteries Powering Your Car, Phone and More
April 27, 2021
Europe Travel Tips: Why to Pick Trains Over Planes
May 6, 2021
Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker: Latest Updates, Global Distribution
May 9, 2021
Terms of Service Trademarks Privacy Policy©2021 Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved
Careers Made in NYC Advertise Ad Choices Help
Stay on top of historic market volatility. Try 3 months for $105 $6. Cancel anytime.
BloombergSign InSubscribeHomeMarketsTechnologyPoliticsWealthPursuitsOpinionBusinessweekNew EconomyEqualityGreenCityLabQuicktakeBloomberg TV+PodcastsRadioBloomberg LiveNewslettersWatchlistSubscribeSign inSubmit a TipHelp CenterLicenseBloomberg New EconomyFuture FinanceWealthNext ChinaCryptoCheckoutHyperdriveWell SpentPrognosisGood BusinessBillionairesGraphicsSponsored ContentScreentimeRetirement CenterThe David Rubenstein ShowArt + TechnologyFuture GOWhere to Invest $10,00050 Companies to Watch in 2018Where to Invest $1 MillionFacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedInEconomicsDealsThe FIX | Fixed IncomeETFsFXFactor InvestingAlternative InvestingMarkets MagazineDaybreakSurveillanceMarketsWhat'd You MissReal YieldCharting FuturesFutures in FocusTwitterFacebookStocksCurrenciesCommoditiesRates & BondsSectorsEconomic CalendarWhat Goes UpStephanomicsOdd LotsSurveillanceP&LTrillionsWork ShiftingCode WarsStartupsAIMobile5G NetworkBig DataCloud ComputingU.S.GlobalThe Elon Musk TrackerTesla Model 3 TrackerBloomberg Technology TVStudio 1.0DecryptedTwitterFacebookElection 2020Trump TrackerGlobal Trade TrackerSound OnBloomberg LawBalance of PowerBalance of PowerTwitterFacebookInvestingLivingOpinion & AdviceSavings & RetirementTaxesReinventionGood MoneyThe PaycheckTwitterFacebookInstagramTravelAutosHomesLivingCultureStyleProperty ListingsLondon Property PricesNew York Property PricesHow to Spend Your BonusMadeTravelerInvitation OnlyTwitterFacebookInstagramEditorialsTwitterFacebookInstagramMasters in BusinessBloomberg Opinion TodayMoney StuffRitholtz's ReadsEarly ReturnsSparklinesSooner Than You ThinkBusiness of EqualityThe Year Ahead: 2020The Bloomberg 50Best B-SchoolsHello WorldSubscribeTwitterFacebookInstagramNew Economy Conversation SeriesStephanomicsTurning PointsTwitterFacebookNew Economy ForumCorporate LeadershipCapitalSocietySolutionsTwitterScience & EnergyClimate AdaptationFinancePoliticsCulture & DesignData DashDaily newsletterTwitterFacebookInstagramDesignCultureTransportationEconomyEnvironmentHousingJusticeGovernmentDaily newsletterTwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInWatch NowStorylinesMoonshotHello WorldGood MoneyGame ChangersCityLab SolutionsAccelerateSee all series...YouTubeTwitterInstagramFacebookUSEuropeAsiaAustraliaSchedule+ShowsSurveillanceDaybreakMarketsBalance of PowerWhat'd You Miss?Bloomberg TechnologyAll Shows...YouTubeTwitterFacebookWhat Goes UpStephanomicsOdd LotsDecryptedMasters in BusinessSurveillanceP&LBusinessweekThe Pay CheckPrognosisTravel GeniusWorks for MeTrillionsAll Podcasts…All Radio Shows…