The Port of Los Angeles saw a 27 percent boost in cargo shipments in March compared to the previous month the first positive news in months amid a bleak outlook for trade in 2009, according to statistics released Tuesday.

The port moved 526,487 twenty-foot cargo container units, or TEUs, last month, up from February's shipment of 413,910 TEUs. However, last month's figure was still down 32 percent compared to February 2008.

Both Los Angeles and its rival, the neighboring Port of Long Beach attributed some of February's dramatically low numbers to the timing of the Chinese New Year, which shut down overseas business for several days. But they also conceded the drop had more to do with less demand for goods.

Port officials had warned shipments would likely drop by double digits in 2009 after the Los Angeles port reported a 6 percent drop in 2008 container volume the largest annual decline after 20 years of steady growth. Now, with March's numbers there is hope that it won't be as bad as expected.

"Our numbers are better so yes, that is an encouraging sign," said Lori Kelman, a spokeswoman for the port.

The Port of Long Beach has not released their numbers for March, but their cargo container shipments dropped in February by 40 percent to its lowest level in five years.

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