Rail Traffic Is Sending Some Mixed Messages About The US Economy

Rail traffic was mixed again this week although intermodal continues to point to a growing economy.  Carloads were down 1% on a year over year basis while intermodal jumped 5.6%.  This brings the 10 week moving average to 4.5% which is a healthy historical figure.  AAR has the details on this week’s data:

“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending July 7, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 243,156 carloads, down 1 per cent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 203,362 trailers and containers, up 5.6 per cent compared with the same week last year.

Seven of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 54.8 per cent; motor vehicles and equipment, up 52.7 per cent, and food and kindred products, up 11.1 per cent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included iron and steel scrap, down 29.6 per cent; primary forest products, down 24.1 per cent, and farm products excluding grain, down 23.6 per cent.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 12.3 per cent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was up 5.3 per cent compared with the same week in 2011.

For the first 27 weeks of 2012, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,567,974 carloads, down 2.8 per cent from the same point last year, and 6,253,092 trailers and containers, up 3.4 per cent from last year.”

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