econintersect .com

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 25 October 2019

Rail Week Ending 19 October 2019 Intuitive Sectors Continue To Worsen

Written by Steven Hansen

Week 42 of 2019 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) contracted according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. The economically intuitive sectors rolling averages remain in contraction - and declined further.

Analyst Opinion of the Rail Data

We review this data set to understand the economy. The intuitive sectors (total carloads removing coal, grain, and petroleum) contracted 6.0 % year-over-year for this week. We primarily use rolling averages to analyze the intuitive data due to weekly volatility - and the 4 week rolling year-over-year average for the intuitive sectors worsened from -5.2 % to -5.5 %.

When rail contracts, it suggests a slowing of the economy.

The following graph compares the four-week moving averages for carload economically intuitive sectors (red line) vs. total movements (blue line):


Intermodal transport (containers or trailers on rail cars) growth was relatively strong until the beginning of 2019 - and now the year-to-date growth is deep in contraction.

This analysis is looking for clues in the rail data to show the direction of economic activity - and is not necessarily looking for clues of the profitability of the railroads. The weekly data is fairly noisy, and the best way to view it is to look at the rolling averages (carloads [including coal and grain] and intermodal combined).

Percent current rolling average change from the rolling average of one year ago Trend Direction
4 week rolling average -7.6 % worsening
13 week rolling average -6.0 % worsening
52 week rolling average -3.1 % worsening

A summary for this week from the AAR:

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 507,381 carloads and intermodal units, down 8.6 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending October 19 were 245,002 carloads, down 7.8 percent compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 262,379 containers and trailers, down 9.3 percent compared to 2018.

Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They were chemicals, up 954 carloads, to 31,720; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 757 carloads, to 12,718. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included coal, down 10,991 carloads, to 75,083; metallic ores and metals, down 3,640 carloads, to 19,706; and motor vehicles and parts, down 2,456 carloads, to 14,749.

For the first 42 weeks of 2019, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,600,083 carloads, down 4.1 percent from the same point last year; and 11,187,351 intermodal units, down 4.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 42 weeks of 2019 was 21,787,434 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 4.2 percent compared to last year.

The middle row in the table below removes coal, grain, and petroleum from the changes in the railcar counts as these commodities are not economically intuitive.

This Week Carloads Intermodal Total
This week Year-over-Year -7.8 % -9.3 % -8.6 %
-- Ignoring coal, grain & petroleum -6.0 %
Year Cumulative to Date -4.1 % -4.3 % -4.2 %

[click on the graph below to enlarge]

z rail1.png

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Permanent link to most recent post on this topic

Click here for Historical Releases Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted. You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Facebook Comment

Econintersect Economic Releases

advertisement - our newsletter sponsor

Biggest transfer of Wealth in US history has begun

A Maryland multimillionaire says the biggest legal transfer of wealth in American history has just gotten underway - here is the No. 1 step you must take

More details here...

[Click here to subscribe to our newsletter]

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

 navigate econintersect .com


Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2020 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved