Wednesday, January 13, 2010

US Freight Rail Traffic...

In the endless pursuit of trends in the most obscure locations, we visit the American Association of Railroads for their Railtime Indicators. The data is mixed to slightly positive...

1) In Dec. 2009 carloads fell 4.1% from Dec. 2008 and were down 17.6% from Dec. 2007. However, there was a substantial decline in coal shipments in 2009 so excluding coal, rail carloads were 42,741 (6.9%) higher in December 2009 than in December 2008. The bulk of the improvement came from autos & parts, grains and chemicals. Interesting crushed stone, sand which is considered a proxy on construction activity, tumbled 15% in December 09.

2) Despite the latest small uptick, total U.S. rail carloads in 2009 were still the lowest since 1991!!

3) Note there was a complete collapse of rail traffic last December so even though this year was slightly higher than last year's low level, the December 09 data was still the lowest level we've seen since Feb 09. The comparisons get more difficult in January, we'll see how things look next month, before drawing too many conclusions.

Cheers!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't show this data to Warren Buffet. Although I understand he's a long-term investor.