Moody’s Investors Service, a leading global credit rating, research and risk analysis firm, has changed its outlook on U.S. ports from negative to stable. This outlook reflects Moody’s expectations for the fundamental business conditions in the industry over the next 12 to 18 months.
According to Moody’s, “Our stable outlook is based on our view that the recovery in U.S. container-volume growth is sustainable and that business conditions for global shipping lines, which drive cargo volume, have stabilized.” Moody’s outlook had been negative since January 2009 when, during the recession, container volume declined. Moody’s expects US container volumes to rise 2%-3% in 2015, tracking growth in the US economy.
Beyond 2015, Moody’s expects cargo competition among ports to accelerate and container volumes to shift away from ports unable to accept larger vessels. However, they don’t expect the opening of the expanded Panama Canal to cause a major shift in cargo routes, predicting that US manufacturers will continue to ship higher-value, time sensitive cargo from Asia through the West Coast ports