Grain shipments by rail led all commodity gainers on better weather and trade indicators, according to the latest weekly data.
The Association of American Railroads said U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 21 totaled 539,425 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.2% percent compared with the same week in 2017.
Traffic was 264,552 carloads, up 3.5%, while weekly intermodal volume was 274,873 containers and trailers, up 8.9% compared to 2017.
Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR posted gains, led by grain, 10.3%; nonmetallic minerals, 9.2%, and motor vehicles and parts, 6.4%. Coal shipments increased 5.1%.
Corn futures prices were up as plantings got underway at a deliberate pace, abetted by news that China was reducing its acreage and Brazil ethanol production surged in April from March.
Commodity groups declining were petroleum, 9.6%; metallic ores, 4.8%, and farm products excluding grain, and food, 3.2%.
For the first 16 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,080,772 carloads, up 0.4% on-year, and 4,310,336 intermodal units, up 5.6%. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 16 weeks of 2018 was 8,391,108 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3%.
Weekly North American rail volume on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 366,248 carloads, up 2%, and 355,613 intermodal units, up 5.6%. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 721,861 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.8%. North American rail volume for the first 16 weeks of 2018 was 11,310,634 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.7%.
Canadian railroads reported 80,327 carloads for the week, down 2.2%, and 64,061 intermodal units, down 2.7%. For the first 16 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,312,464 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.7%.
Mexican railroads reported 21,369 carloads for the week and 16,679 intermodal units. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 16 weeks of 2018 was 607,062 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers. No comparable data was provided.