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Supply-Chain Relief Sparks Feud Over Softer US Economy

  • Some observers see corrugated boxes as a canary in a coal mine
  • But if shipping pallets are a guide, demand still looks solid
Ports Of Los Angeles And Long Beach As Container Glut Eases
Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg

Some supply strains in the US are easing, two years after a jump in demand started emptying shelves, snarling shipping and sowing the seeds of soaring inflation.

The line of 25 cargo ships headed to Southern California’s two big ports is less than a quarter of the record backup in January, and spot container rates have dropped almost 20% this year. Flexport Inc.’s average transpacific shipping journey of 102 days is the quickest since November. Delays moving containers out of rail depots in Detroit and Memphis are shorter than they were in September, according to Hapag-Lloyd AG.