Economy: Rail traffic boom shows Canada’s economic buoyancy

Canadian freight volumes accelerated in the fourth quarter to their fastest pace in 2011 on a year-over-year basis, while commodity carloads were up 6.8 percent in December from November on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to data from the Association of American Railroads. Data from Statistics Canada showing stronger volumes in the August-October period also suggest future economic growth.

“One of the great challenges right now is there is an incredible skew among economic indicators,” said Eric Lascelles, chief economist at RBC Global Asset Management Inc. in Toronto, which oversees about C$250 billion ($246 billion), adding that he uses rail freight as part of a set of indicators to gauge Canada’s economic outlook. “Now is the sort of time when you want to look at unusual indicators because the traditional ones just aren’t giving a clear picture.”

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