There's been some slowing in rail traffic data in recent weeks, though the pace of growth remains positive. This week's reading came in at 1.4% year over year, which brings the three-month moving average to 5.75%. This trend is likely to remain elevated for a few more weeks before the recent weakness begins to make the data look a lot weaker. Rail traffic isn't looking recessionary, but it's definitely weakening.
Here's more from AAR:
The Association of American Railroads 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% compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 235,641 units, up 1.4% compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. traffic for the week was 514,379 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.7% 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%. Commodities showing a decrease were led by grain, down 17.3%.
For the first 12 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,289,507 carloads, down 3% from the same point last year, and 2,851,329 intermodal units, up 6.2% from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 12 weeks of 2013 was 6,140,836 carloads and intermodal units, up 1% from last year.
Chart via Orcam Investment Research: