January 2012 Rail Traffic Growth Less Good

Although the January 2012 rate of growth of rail movements is the worst in five months, it still shows a 0.8% growth over January 2011.

Econintersect uses rail movements to complement its understanding of economic dynamics in coming months.  As long as growth remains positive, it bodes well for a positive economic outlook.

As coal comprises well over 40% of all commodities transported, and coal has major demand fluctuations unassociated with the economy – the below graph removes coal from the equation – and shows a 2.2% month-over-month gain over 2011.

The graphic below compares non-seasonally adjusted total rail movements year-over-year.

Most finished consumer goods which travel on rail move in intermodal units, containers and trailers, on rail cars. If there was only one pulse point to watch – it is this one. It shows positive year-over-year growth. A caveat here: some of the growth is due from taking traffic from trucks, so one would need to view intermodal rail with truck to get a complete picture.

As rail is the first reporter of January 2012 data, here is how December 2011 transport indicators compare:

All important rail trend lines show economic activity has grown in January. This data is indicating economic expansion.

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