No big changes in rail traffic this week as carloads notched another negative week and intermodal rose 3.8% year over year. Intermodal, which has been a better leading indicator of economic activity historically, continues to expand just modestly. The latest reading of 3.8% is nothing to write home about, but is certainly not consistent with a shrinking economy. The AAR has more details on this week’s data:
“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending June 9, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 285,413 carloads, down 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 246,422 trailers and containers, up 3.8 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 50.4 percent; motor vehicles and equipment, up 29.6 percent, and lumber and wood products, up 10.7 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included iron and steel scrap, down 21.2 percent; coke, down 12.7 percent, and grain, down 11.1 percent.
Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was down 1.2 percent compared with the same week in 2011.
For the first 23 weeks of 2012, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,469,960 carloads, down 3.1 percent from the same point last year, and 5,300,130 trailers and containers, up 3 percent from last year.”