Forecasts scarce, worries plentiful for shipping firms

Dec 11, 2008 | 08:04 AM | Corinna Petry

A lot of question marks permeated AMM's 3rd annual Moving Metals Conference this week in Memphis, Tenn. Forecasts were difficult to come by, shippers and carriers said, in the wake of grave economic uncertainty and the shutdown of 50 percent or more of U.S. iron and steel production in the fourth quarter.

Credit availability is expected to play a huge role in whether trucking firms even stay alive during the recession. As one commentator said, "This is a great time to take a vacation."

In sharp contrast to the first half of the year, rail car capacity is plentiful, according to Steve W. Fulton, director of logistics for TMK Ipsco and NS Group Inc. "Now the question is where to park the rail cars" that are not in use. He forecast a slow start to rail shipments in 2009.

David A. Riddell, marketing manager for RSI Logistics Inc., Okemos, Mich., said metal carloads on rail were down 40 percent in November. Another commentator who monitors rail traffic said later that scrap volume was down 65 percent from the first half of 2008.....

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