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Which Commodities Pulled Down CSX’s Carloads in the Week?

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CSX’s carloads

CSX Corporation (CSX) is a major operator in the eastern United States, competing with Norfolk Southern (NSC). In the week ended October 1, 2016, CSX’s overall carloads reported a fall of 5.6% compared to the week ended October 3, 2015.

Overall, CSX hauled 72,000 carloads in the last-reported week, compared to 76,000 carloads in the corresponding week in 2015. The company’s carloads, excluding coal and coke, fell 3.6%. In comparison, NSC reported a rise in the same category.

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Why coal carloads matter

CSX’s coal plus coke railcars fell 11.8% in the week ended October 1, 2016. Its rival NSC reported a fall of 5.2% in the same category. Note that coal accounted for 16% of CSX’s total volumes and 19% of its total revenue in 2015.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Appalachian region’s coal output is expected to fall 20% in 2016. However, the agency expects total coal production to rise 4% in 2017, with nearly the entirety of the rise coming from the Appalachian region. CSX is a major coal transporter in the region.

Eastern railroad companies have cited electricity generation plants’ shifts from coal to natural gas (UNG) as one of the reasons for their falls in utility coal transportation. The coal tsunami has affected major coal producers in the United States such as Alliance Resource Partners (ARLP), CONSOL Energy (CNX), and Peabody Energy (BTU), which recently declared bankruptcy.

Bull and bear commodity groups

The commodity groups that posted significant gains in the week ended October 1, 2016, were as follows:

  • waste and non-ferrous scrap
  • motor vehicles and parts
  • food products
  • lumber and wood products
  • iron and steel scrap

The prominent laggard commodity groups were metallic ores, petroleum and petroleum products, primary metal products, and pulp and paper products.

We’ll take a look at CSX’s intermodal traffic in the next article.

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