I’ve long been in the controversial “no recession” camp in the USA and among the many indicators that have stood out during this call was rail traffic. It has continually pointed to positive growth in the USA in the face of conflicting data points. The latest reading shows more of the same with the year over year reading for this week coming in at 3.3% for intermodal traffic and 0.4% for carloads. The 10 week moving average for intermodal traffic is at 5.1%, but likely to weaken given the recent readings below 5%. Overall, this indicator seems to be pretty consistent with my overall view – it’s muddle through for now, but not recession. Here’s more via AAR:
“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported gains in weekly rail traffic for the week ending August 4, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 288,229 carloads, up 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 243,261 trailers and containers, up 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year.
Thirteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 56.3 percent; lumber and wood products, up 29 percent, and grain, up 11.2 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included iron and steel scrap, down 19.7 percent; metallic ores, down 13.3 percent, and farm products excluding grain, down 13.2 percent.
Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 9 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was up 6.8 percent compared with the same week in 2011.
For the first 31 weeks of 2012, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,716,780 carloads, down 2.5 percent from the same point last year, and 7,239,062 trailers and containers, up 3.6 percent from last year.”