Bulk aggregates up 1.7% in April
June 18, 2012
Bulk Aggregates finally rebounded in April after dropping for three straight months. Loadings jumped 1.7% from March to April, after falling since the end of 2011. Loadings were at 5.307 million in April, up 4.0% from the prior year. Over the last year loadings in this market have been quite volatile from month to month. Our forecast doesn’t include that level of volatility so we would expect to see loading volumes vary from month to month, but should see year-over-year gains remain mostly positive, but erratic.
Over the last 6 months, monthly volumes have swung from a low of nearly 5 million to just under 6 million in December. The weakness in the first quarter has lowered our expectations for the market in 2012, but it should still show annual growth – albeit, very modest growth. We are now back on the trend line and expect to see modest growth continue for the balance of 2012. However, as noted above, the monthly variance has been quite high and will probably continue. This will create large swings in the year-over-year comparisons during 2012.
Freight levels peaked in the very early portion of 2006. Volumes were essentially cut in half over the next 4 years as the housing and construction industries took a huge hit. Unlike other sectors, this segment didn’t get a late 2009 rebound in volumes, but it did spike up sharply in mid-2010. Despite the volatile monthly data, volumes have essentially trended flat over the last 8 quarters.
After dropping 7.5% in 2007, 15.0% in 2008, and 17.5% in 2009, loads rose only 1.0% in 2010. Volumes were up a similar amount in 2011, growing just 1.2%, with most of the growth coming from the strong December volumes.
The weakness that has persisted over the last 2 years is expected to continue in 2012, up just 1.3%, before finally improving in 2013. The outlook is well below where we were just a few months ago. Growth in 2013 will look better as we get past the volatile 2011/2012 data, accelerating to 3.8%, and a further gain of 3.9% in 2014.
Bulk Aggregates are movements of mined or quarried stones and minerals (except metals and fuels). This includes such items as asphalt, fertilizers, shale, clay, sand, gravel, and stones. FTR’s data is seasonally adjusted and measures both short and long-haul OTR segments.
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