More shipping containers moved through the Port of Charleston in March than at any time since October of 2008, the State Ports Authority reported this morning.

While SPA President and CEO Jim Newsome cautioned against making too much of a single-month statistic, container volume for the quarter was also the highest since at least the summer of 2009.

The reports were encouraging for the SPA, because container volume for the fiscal year that began July 1 has been below the authority’s budget expectations. The monthly and quarterly improvements suggest the trend is improving.

“We’re working hard to increase our volume,” Newsome said.

The port’s big gains recently have been coming from non-container cargo, such as automobiles and industrial-sized tires. Pier tons, the measurement for such cargo, are up more than 20 percent compared to the SPA’s prior fiscal year, and well ahead of projections.

Add it all up, and SPA revenues for the first 9 months of the fiscal year were up 6 percent over 2011, but $2.77 million below budget projections.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 orTwitter @DSladeNews.