September REIN Report: Global trade, autos strong

Much like the national economy, the Southeast economy made mixed progress in August, according to the most recent report from the Atlanta Fed's Regional Economic Information Network (REIN).

The automotive sector, along with international trade, again proved to be a regional strength. Southeast auto production in August jumped 74 percent from low levels last year compared with a 48 percent rise nationally. Sales of vehicles built in the region climbed 26 percent in August, led by rising volumes from Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes, and Nissan.

Meanwhile, the value of international shipments passing through Southeastern ports continued rising,. For the first time since mid-2009, exports and imports posted gains. On a year-over-year basis, the value of regional exports and imports for the year ending in July increased 4.8 and 3.9 percent, respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Exports and imports improved in Mobile, Miami, and Savannah while activity continued to be weak in Tampa.

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has so far not disrupted energy production, according to REIN. The Energy Information Administration, however, estimates that the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf will reduce crude oil production in 2011 by an average of 82,000 barrels a day, or roughly 5 percent of 2010 production.

Back on land, cotton prices in August rose 43 percent from a year earlier because of favorable global market conditions. The near-term outlook is also strong, according to the USDA, as major mill producers, including China and India, figure to rely on U.S. cotton as their domestic crops are hampered by bad weather.

For more data, analysis, and graphs on these and other important sectors of the Southeastern economy, read the full REIN report.