The pace of rail traffic expansion continued to slow this week as total intermodal traffic slowed to just 1.4% year over year. That was up marginally from last week, but down substantially from recent readings. This week's data brings the 12 week moving average down to 5.75%, still solidly positive, but well down from the March high of 6.75%. Given the weakness in recent weeks and strong year over year data to start the year, we should expect this data to look a bit weaker going forward as comps become more difficult.
The AAR has more details on this week's data:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported an increase in traffic for the week ending March 23, 2013, with total U.S. weekly carloads of 278,738 carloads, up 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 235,641 units, up 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. traffic for the week was 514,379 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, led by petroleum products, up 57 percent. Commodities showing a decrease were led by grain, down 17.3 percent.
For the first 12 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,289,507 carloads, down 3 percent from the same point last year, and 2,851,329 intermodal units, up 6.2 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 12 weeks of 2013 was 6,140,836 carloads and intermodal units, up 1 percent from last year.
Chart via Orcam Investment Research: