The growth of cargo throughput at Kwai Chung container terminals slowed last month as the port lockout on the US west coast and China's week-long national holiday took their toll. Container throughput at Kwai Chung - which makes up two-thirds of the SAR's sea cargo - rose 2.5 per cent last month year on year to 1.05 million teu (20-foot equivalent units), according to the Hong Kong Port and Maritime Board. In contrast, September throughput grew 13.8 per cent year on year to 1.17 million teu. Many exporters had shipped goods early to avoid the National Day holiday, a board spokeswoman said. 'It's a seasonal adjustment as exporters always prefer to ship goods in September as there's a long holiday in October,' she said. The ports handled 9.8 million teu of cargo in the first 10 months, up 3.6 per cent over the same period last year, the board said. HSBC chief economist for Greater China George Leung Siu-kay said the slow growth last month was not surprising as Hong Kong exports for the Christmas season had reached their peak in August and September. 'The reason for the small increase is not because of poor fundamentals. However, setting aside the US ports problem, I don't think the economy is very strong either.' Mr Leung expects cargo throughput to grow more than 10 per cent in the last three months, from a low base in the final quarter last year caused by severely weakened exports after the September 11 attacks.