If rail traffic is any indication of current economic strength (and it has been a superb leading indicator for years), then we’re looking at continued softness in the US economy. The latest reading on intermodal traffic came in at -1.5% year over year and brought the 12 week moving average to 2%. That’s about right in line with overall economic growth and consistent with a growing, but sluggish economy.
The AAR has more details on this week’s report:
“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending June 29, 2013, with total U.S. weekly carloads of 281,367 carloads, up 1 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 249,673 units, down 1.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. traffic for the week was 531,040 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, led by petroleum and petroleum products, up 26.6 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included grain, down 13.8 percent.
For the first 26 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,217,899 carloads, down 1.5 percent from the same point last year, and 6,270,438 intermodal units, up 3.6 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 26 weeks of 2013 was 13,488,337 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent from last year.”
Chart via Orcam Investment Research: