With extra day in Feb and very easy comps, domestic brewers' taxpaid shipments up 496K bbls, 2% for 2 mos. Leap Day led to 666K-bbl, 5.4% surge in Feb, estimates Beer Inst economist Michael Uhrich. That wiped out soft Jan (-170K bbls) and then some. Actually, 2% gain kind of a no-brainer; taxpaids took a 6% hit Jan-Feb last yr. But we'll take it. Tack on Jan import gain of 130K bbls, 5.7% and known US shipments kicked off 2016 with 626K-bbl, 2.3% increase. At same time, state shipments (different measure) up 540K bbls, 1.8%, Jan-Feb, Michael estimates. Calif, NY and several big Midwest mkts off to slow start, but Fla solid, Pennsy strong and Tex up slightly. "The trends across states are reflecting the positive signs we're seeing at the national level," Michael told INSIGHTS, adding: "36 states are now showing positive 12 month trends - that's the most states in the black in over three years." Off-premise biz up 2.2% thru Mar 19, sez Nielsen.
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