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WEEKLY RAIL SHIPPING: SIGNS OF WEAKENING, AGAIN

Below is the updated nineteen-week data compilation of 2009/10 rail shipping weekly figures compared to 2008/09. The Delta change illustrates the rate of change between the previous weeks data. The average at the bottom shows how the delta change average is changing between weeks.
 
2/12/2010 Statement: The 2/6/2010 current weekly shipping data, (the most volatile of the reported data) has slipped negative. Also, notice that the delta change between weeks is starting to weaken. The running average of change between weeks is again beginning to drop. This is consistent with the PCI diesel consumption of 3.3%, yr over yr. Three point three percent looks more like inventory restocking but not real GDP job recovery let alone job creation. 
 
Inventory figures released this morning showed -.2 % restocking in January, not exactly something to write home about. Real GDP recovery is in question, as the Gov starts to sober up about printing more money.  Yesterday’s 30 bond auction, (missed on most news releases) was not inspiring at all, in fact signaling reluctance on the part of buyers of long term US debt to sally up to the table. These adjustments are not all about Greece; there is a widening realization that the recovery may be a bluff. 10,000 on the DJ offers strong support any bad news here, could result in a correction of closer to 15% instead of a 7 to 8% correction that we are now pounding out.
 
RAIL TRAFFIC
2010/09 COMPARED TO 2009/08
 
 
 
Yr to Date
 
Current Wk
 
4 Wk Roll Av
DATE
 
Delta
 
Delta
 
Delta
 
 
Change
 
Change
 
Change
2/6/2010
1.1
0.4
3
-4.2
3.7
3
1/30/2010
0.7
2.1
7.2
3.7
0.7
1.9
1/23/2010
-1.4
2.9
3.5
3.4
-1.2
0.4
1/16/2010
-4.3
4.3
0.1
8.7
-1.6
-1.1
1/9/2010
-8.6
6.7
-8.6
-8.4
-0.5
-0.2
1/2/2010
-15.3
0.2
-0.2
-5
-0.3
1.3
12/26/2009
-15.5
0.3
4.8
1
-1.6
1.8
12/19/2009
-15.8
0.4
3.8
9.6
-3.4
2.1
12/12/2009
-16.2
0.1
-5.8
-0.9
-5.5
0.4
12/5/2009
-16.3
0.2
-4.9
0
-5.9
1.7
11/28/2009
-16.5
0.2
-4.9
0.4
-7.6
1.8
11/21/2009
-16.7
0.2
-5.3
3.1
-9.4
1.9
11/14/2009
-16.9
0.2
-8.4
2.7
-11.3
1.4
11/7/2009
-17.1
0.2
-11.1
1.5
-12.7
0.9
10/31/2009
-17.3
0.3
-12.6
-0.4
-13.6
0
10/24/2009
-17.6
0.3
-12.2
1.7
-13.6
0.4
11/11/2009
-17.9
0.1
-13.9
1.1
-14
2
10/3/2009
-18
0.1
-15
1.2
-16
1.2
9/26/2009
-18.1
0
-16.2
0
-17.2
0
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1/23/2010
AVERAGE=
0.98
AVERAGE=
1.16
AVERAGE=
0.94
1/30/2010
AVERAGE=
1.04
AVERAGE=
1.30
AVERAGE=
0.99
2/6/2010
AVERAGE=
1.01
AVERAGE=
1.01
AVERAGE=
1.10
 
 
1/30/2010 Sorry for the delay, I was at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Rail traffic continues to increase and is now positive in all 3 periods tracked. Five sectors within the data are still positive with forest products dropping off. The average change between months continues to improve and the overall average change between all 3 time frames is also improving week over week. Comparisons with 2008 are now down only 15%. In spite of all the hoopla and media traffic over the market correction, the shipping data is pointing toward recovery.
 
1/23/2010 STATEMENT: All sectors within the rail traffic database continue to improve. Six sectors are in the green, (grains, chemicals, food, forest products, metals and autos), with only coal a laggard. Autos are up 69.5% compared to last year at this time and food is now positive compared to 2009 and 2008. Even forest products managed to be just slightly above, (+.3%) last years comparisons. In general the rail traffic is still down –16.2% compared to 2008 but is slowly improving from being down –22%. 
 
The relative change between weeks is starting to improve, with Yr To date and Current wk changes running well above their respective averages. All this activity amounts to a confirmation of inventory restocking and increases in export trade, a confirmation that there is some U. S. economic improvement.
 
1/16.10 statement: Five commodities were on the positive side: grains, chemicals, food, metals and autos. Forest dropped off, an indication of restocking not recovery. Grains are export orientated, as are chemicals and metals. Years to date and weekly figures are looking better compared to last year at this time. We will be working through the first quarter compared to last year, which was very distressed. Starting in April and May the comparisons will be more challenging. Any recovery, either export lead or consumer lead will have to show improvement into the summer.
 
1/9/10 Statement: The change in year to date traffic compared to last year is impressive but even with that improvement is still 23.5% below two years ago. If fact all current averages are 22 to 23% below two years ago. Grain dropped off the positive side, but chemicals, food, forest, metals and autos are all still positive. Autos were up a whoppen 71.6% from last year. January, February, March and April were pretty tough months, last year. So comparisons should be easy and if they don’t turn positive I’ll be surprised. This trend corresponds to improved data coming in on inventory re-stocking.
 
1/2 statement: Overall rail shipping is again starting to drop: with the current week change being quite dramatic. Only grain is maintaining some strength with the 5 other sectors mentioned last week all slipping, and still very deeply negative compared to this period of 2007. Any US economic recovery will need to sustain a week over week improvement, and also a year to date and 4 week moving average improvement. Next weeks Long Beach shipping report will help clarify the rail data.
 
12/26 statement: Well, this week you can add forest products to: grain, chemicals, food, metals and autos. All moving in a positive direction. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues into 2010. Thus far, it has held for two weeks, with grain exports helping the overall average. The cheep dollar maybe contributing to the beginning of an export recovery, which would not be reflected yet, in Long Beach container figures.
 
12/19 statement: It is easy to see the recovery reflected, as all three shipping columns are slowly raising out of extreme negativite territory.
 
12/12 statement: “It is also obvious that the rate of change between week-to-week periods is slowing in all three columns. In looking at a slowing rate of improvement, remember two things. One: these are all negative figures. Two: the comparison period last year is the fourth qtr., the worst period of contracting rail shipping.” Last week the data changed to the upside.   “Contributing to this was: grain, chemicals, food, metals and autos. It’s nice to see a number of sectors improving across the board.   As these figurers are compared to 2008 and the first quarter of 2008 was pretty bad, therefore the current rail data is looking pretty good, while Long Beach incoming ship containers is still very depressed. “


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