This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Rail Traffic Surges in March

Stocks in this article: CNI CP CXS

Is rail traffic finally reflecting an economic recovery?

The Association of American Railroads data for March shows rail cargo traffic for commodities surged 8% in March over the average of January and February levels, as well as coming in higher than the same month a year ago. Rail cargo still remains well below the record levels of 2006 and 2007.

As shown in the following graphic from AAR, February and March of 2010 were mirroring 2009's low levels for commodity shipments, so the March data appears to be a delayed reflection of economic recovery. The year-over-year increase in March was the first such event since July, 2008.

Average Weekly U.S. Rail Cardloads: All Commodities
AAR Weekly Railroad Traffic
CLICK HERE FOR FULL VIEW

The data for container shipments, which are reflective of finished products rather than raw materials, started 2010 stronger than 2009 and increased further in March. March 2010 still remained below the same month in 2008. See the following graph from AAR.

Average Weekly U.S. Rail Intermodal Traffic
AAR Weekly Railroad Traffic
CLICK HERE FOR FULL VIEW

The following graph summarizes the differences between March 2010 and the four precious years. The improvement from 2009 is significant.

2010 March Rail Cargo vs. Prior Years
Association of American Railroads
CLICK HERE FOR FULL VIEW

There are 19 distinct categories of freight tracked by the AAR. From March 2008 to March 2010, all 19 categories show negative change. From March 2009 to March 2010, 16 of the 19 changes were positive and a seventeenth was unchanged. The strongest and weakest changes for the two different comparisons to March 2010 are listed in the following table.

Strongest and Weakest Changes for March 2010
Association of American Railroads
CLICK HERE FOR FULL VIEW

Rail cargo traffic in Canada is stronger than the U.S., well above 2009 levels and just below the levels of 2006, 2007 and 2008. As in the U.S., container and trailer cargo is stronger in Canada relative to prior years than is commodity cargo.

Rail cargo volumes are valuable indicators to measure the strength of the recovery. If cargo volumes falter in the coming months, that will not be a good omen for the economy; we are still close to the low levels of 2009. There is little cushion in the rail traffic numbers between where we are and serious recession levels.

Rail stocks rallied Wednesday to the release of the AAR report, with gains generally of 1% or more.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!

Markets

DOW 18,053.71 +23.50 0.13%
S&P 500 2,088.77 +6.89 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,806.8590 +33.3870 0.70%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs