This week's rail traffic reading showed modest improvement over recent weeks, but the longer-term trend remains negative. Intermodal traffic was up 3.9% this week, which was an improvement over last week's reading of 2.8%. The data, however, continues to soften on a rolling three-month basis with the latest reading coming in at 3%. That's the lowest level since January. The good news is we're not seeing the type of consistently negative readings that tend to precede a recession. The bad news is that the growth is tapering.
Here's more via The Association of American Railroads:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported an increase in traffic for the week ending May 11, 2013, with total U.S. weekly carloads of 280,986 carloads, up 0.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 248,266 units, up 3.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. traffic for the week was 529,252 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.1 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 50.8 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included grain, down 21.3 percent, and farm and food products, excluding grain, down 10 percent.
For the first 19 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,244,498 carloads, down 1.9 percent from the same point last year, and 4,540,879 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 19 weeks of 2013 was 9,785,377 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.9 percent from last year.