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Intermodal rail freight was off 20.1% for the week first week of June.  Carloadings were at their highest level in 9 weeks, but still off 19.8% from last year.  If you’re looking for a sign of how slow this recovery might be (if we can actually call this a recovery) you need look no further than the rail data.  Despite surging commodity prices the rail data is likely a sign that prices are being driven more by government stimulus and speculation as opposed to real demand.  The AAR said:

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11, 2009 — Showing slight signs of a slowly improving economy, rail carloadings on major U.S. railroads last week were at their highest level in nine weeks, the Association of American Railroads reported today.

U.S. railroads originated 260,282 cars during the week ended June 6, down 19.8 percent from the same week in 2008, with loadings down 16.5 percent in the West and 24.4 percent in the East.

Intermodal volume of 188,801 trailers or containers was off 20.1 percent from the same period last year, with container volume falling 15.3 percent and trailer volume dropping 37.7 percent.

Eighteen of 19 carload commodity groups were down from last year, with declines ranging from 6.7 percent for grain mill products to 68.2 percent for metallic ores. The lone group showing an increase was the catch-all category labeled “all other carloads” which was up 24.4 percent.


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