Rail traffic on major North American railroads increased 8.8% in the week ended Oct. 9 versus a year ago, according to the Association of American Railroads. Carloads totaled 297,029. Intermodal traffic was up 13.1% over the same period. Stronger intermodal suggests that the market for finished goods is robust, while lower shipments of commodities -- as indicated in slower growth of rail traffic -- casts doubt on the strength of future economic activity, John Lounsbury writes.

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