U.S. containerized exports dropped 3 percent year-over-year in October after a strong third quarter, an abrupt brake that included the first decline in motor vehicle exports in more than a year, according to The Journal of Commerce/PIERS.

Year-to-date export volume was still up 7.1 percent, however, JOC/PIERS Economist Mario O. Moreno forecasts a 5.8 percent growth for 2011 slowing to 3.8 percent for full year 2012. Overall U.S. containerized volume, measured in 20-foot-equivalent units, fell to 1,008,273 TEUs during October, as markets in Europe, the Mediterranean and South America tumbled.

A 7 percent overall drop marked the first year-over-year decline in motor vehicles in 14 months. For Northern Europe, this accounted for an exports loss of 38 percent. Brazilian demand for miscellaneous plastic products, wood pulp and chemicals reversed sharply, leading to a 25 percent decrease to 25,444 TEUs of containerized exports shipped there.

On the upswing are exports to Africa, up 20 percent because of increased demand for grocery products, poultry and vinyl alcohol, and China, where meat volumes jumped 195 percent and U.S. logs and lumber rose 64 percent.

Across the geographic spectrum, export losses were offset by gains of 125 percent in synthetic resins, 38 percent in meat, 17 percent in logs and lumber, 27 percent in poultry and 7 percent in mixed metal scrap.

A full analysis of the JOC/PIERS findings is available online.