Thursday, August 19, 2010

Weekly Rail Container Volume Highest on Record

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Aug. 19, 2010 – "The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported rail intermodal volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Aug. 14, 2010 was the highest of 2010, with 233,767 total trailers and containers, up 20.8 percent from the same week in 2009, but down 1.4 percent compared with 2008 (see chart above). Weekly container volume, a subset of intermodal, was the highest on record up 22.4 percent compared with the same week in 2009, and up 6.4 percent with the same week in 2008. Trailer volume, the other subset of intermodal, rose 12.3 percent last week compared with the same week in 2009, but fell 31 percent compared with 2008.

Carload traffic continued moderate weekly gains, with U.S. railroads originating 295,948 carloads for the week, up 7.1 percent compared with the same week in 2009, but down 11.3 percent from the same week in 2008.

Sixteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. Those posting the most significant increases were metallic ores, up 65.4 percent; metals and metal products, up 38.8 percent; and farm products excluding grain, up 37.6 percent. Two commodity groups, farm products excluding grain and metallic ores, also posted increases over 2008."

Other highlights for Week 32 include:

1. Cumulative year-to-date rail freight volume in Canada is up by 15.2% compared to last year.

2. Cumulative year-to-date rail activity is by 31.7% for major Mexican railroads.  

3. Year-to-date rail freight volume for all major North America railroads is above last year's level by 14.5%.

Bottom Line: Warren Buffett's single most favorite economic indicator continued to show signs of improvement again in the most recent weekly report on rail traffic from the AAR.  Based on the volume of raw materials, natural resources, lumber, coal grain, chemicals, metals, motor vehicles and paper products moving around the country by rail, the economic picture continues to get a little brighter almost every week.   

4 Comments:

At 8/19/2010 12:59 PM, Blogger Andy said...

Generally these figures indicate orders placed a few months ago. Does it make sense to be concerned that as the current perceived slowdown worries companies, that these figures could be lagging indicator?

 
At 8/19/2010 1:10 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

"... these figures could be lagging indicator?"

No, much of this raw material (ex coal) is the beginning of the manufacturing process. The cycle of converting raw materials into parts and then the finished product is truly manufacturing. With a just-in-time manufacturing cycle the companies in raw material conversion business have to confident of future orders.

 
At 8/19/2010 1:15 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

meanwhile, unemployment claims are up again. 500k, highest in 9 months.

the philly fed index actually went negative on current situation, future orders, and on employment. it can be a bit of a noisy indicator, but this is not good news.

Q2 gdp growth will be halved when it is revised due to trade balance. 1.2% growth is pretty low for this stage of a recovery.

new mortgage applications declined again and remain at the lows for the recession.

the indicators arguing against rail and port volume seem to be really piling up.

 
At 8/19/2010 1:50 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

i have a question:

from looking at the release

http://www.aar.org/newsandevents/freightrailtraffic/~/media/aar/weekly_traffic_reports/2010/2010-08-19-wtr.ashx

i see an interesting gap.

total intermodal units are up 20.8% from a year ago.

but, ton miles are only up 8.7%. the 2 biggest shipment category gainers were ores and metal goods, so i doubt it's that the containers are lighter.

so what's the story with that gap? might the container count indicator be being skewed upward by more and shorter trips being used intercity or some sort of hand-off issues to trucks etc?

why else would containers be going up so much more rapidly than ton miles?

 

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