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Rail traffic continues to post strong numbers as the year comes to a close. Through 51 weeks, intermodal traffic has posted a 4.5% year-over-year growth rate -- not far from Q3 GDP of 4.1%. The weekly reading of 6.4% brings the 12-week moving average to 7.2%, which is just shy of a nine-month high.

(click to enlarge)

Here's more detail via The Association of American Railroads (AAR):

The AAR today reported mixed U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Dec. 21, 2013, with 289,528 total U.S. carloads, down 0.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 255,456 units, up 6.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 544,984 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year.

Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, including petroleum and petroleum products with 15,501 carloads, up 12.7 percent; and grain with 21,030 carloads, up 5.0 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included metallic ores and metals with 24,754 carloads, down 6.5 percent; and coal with 113,070 carloads, down 2.9 percent.

For the first 51 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 14,376,905 carloads, down 0.7 percent from the same point last year, and 12,659,296 intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 51 weeks of 2013 was 27,036,201 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.7 percent from last year.

Source: Rail Traffic Continues To Show Positive Economic Signs