We’re continuing to see some mixed signals out of the weekly rail traffic data. The bad news is carloads continue to fall. This week they were down -5.2%. The good news is intermodal continues to grow. This week’s intermodal figure came in at 3.1%. This brings the 10 week moving average to 3.4%. Historically, intermodal has tracked better in predicting recessions so I tend to put more weight on the intermodal data and the current readings appear consistent with a sluggish, but growing economy. The AAR has more:
“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending May 12, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 279,063 carloads, down 5.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 238,980 trailers and containers, up 3.1 percent compared with the same week last year.
Ten of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 49 percent; motor vehicles and equipment, up 35.7 percent, and lumber and wood products, up 20.3 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included coal, down 16.2 percent; nonmetallic minerals, down 15.4 percent, and grain, down 11.4 percent.
Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 5.2 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was down 5.2 percent compared with the same week in 2011.
For the first 19 weeks of 2012, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,347,394 carloads, down 3.3 percent from the same point last year, and 4,353,407 trailers and containers, up 2.8 percent from last year.”