Thursday, October 25, 2012

U.S. freight slump hits more commodity groups

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For the week ending Oct. 20, 2012, a key difference in the continuing slump in U.S. freight carload traffic is the number of commodity groups affected, according to data released Thursday by the Association of American Railroads.

AAR noted only seven of the 20 carload U.S. commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2011; many previous weeks in 2012 have noted gains in half the groups or better. Winners included farm products excluding grain, up 87%, petroleum products, up 60.5%, and lumber and wood products, up 19.8%. Declining commodities iron and steel scrap, down 25.5%, coal, down 13.9%, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 13.2%.

All told, U.S. freight carload volume continued falling short of 2011 levels, down 4.4% in the latest week. U.S. intermodal volume continued its countertrend, gaining 3.5% for the week compared with one year ago.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 6% compared with the same week last year, while in the West weekly carload volume was down 3.4%.

Canadian freight carload volume fell 3.6% for the week ending Oct. 20, while Canadian intermodal volume advanced 3.9%. Mexican freight carload volume fell 3% short of volumes in the same week a year ago, but Mexican intermodal soared 46.9%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 42 weeks of 2012 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican was, down 1.6% compared with the same point last year, while combined North American intermodal volume was up 4.7%.

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