Friday, August 28, 2009

Rail Data Showing Some Improvement

I'm always keeping an eye on the weekly rail car loading data from the Association of American Railroads. This weeks data is showing some improvement. As we continue to look for signs of strength in the economy, this is one I like to watch. Although it has been slow to improve, and some might thus view it as more of a lagging indicator, I don't think that's the case. We're looking at raw materials here. This is one of the first steps in the line. I feel that the market is continuing to price in a recovery that hasn't necessarily been shown through data. That's why I continue to be cautious about this market. Anyway, here's yesterday's release:

AAR Reports Rail Traffic Continues Slight Improvement

Carloadings at Highest Level Since Early March

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 27, 2009 — The Association of American Railroads today reported that rail traffic continues to show slight improvement with rail carloadings at their highest level since early March. For the week ended Aug. 22, 2009, U.S. railroads reported originating 279,478 cars, down 16.1 percent compared with the same week in 2008. Regionally, carloadings were down 14.2 percent in the West and 18.9 percent in the East. Intermodal volume of 193,207 trailers or containers on U.S. railroads was down 16.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Container volume fell 10.2 percent and trailer volume dropped 38.2 percent. Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending August 22 was estimated at 29.8 billion ton-miles, down 15.6 percent from the same week last year. Eighteen of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were down from last year, with only the nonmetallic mineral category defying the trend with a 1.3 percent increase. Declines among the other commodities ranged from 5.7 percent for petroleum products to 49.3 percent for metallic ores. For the first 33 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,715,641 carloads, down 18.8 percent from 2008; 6,151,511 trailers or
containers, down 17.1 percent, and total volume of an estimated 927.7 billion ton-miles, down 17.9 percent.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 64,267 cars for the week, down 15.3 percent from last year, and 41,971 trailers or containers, down 19.2 percent. For the first 33 weeks of 2009, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,973,473 carloads, down 23.6 percent from last year, and 1,328,088 trailers or containers, down 16.4 percent.

Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 11,461 cars, down 1.4 percent from the same week last year, and 6,279 trailers or containers, off 3.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 33 weeks of 2009 was reported as 374,653 carloads, down 14.8 percent from last year; and 162,822 trailers or containers, down 20.6 percent. Combined North American rail volume for the first 33 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 11,063,767 carloads, down 19.6 percent from last year, and 7,642,421 trailers and containers, down 17.1 percent from last year.

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