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U.S. rail traffic grew 3.1 percent to 570,225 carloads and intermodal units during December's first week compared with traffic levels the same week a year ago, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).Total carloads for the week were steady at 267,000 units, up only 0.3 percent, while intermodal volume jumped 5.7 percent to 303,225 containers and trailers versus a year ago.Five of the 10 carload commodity groups that AAR follows on a weekly basis posted increases. They included petroleum and petroleum products, up 2,464 carloads to 13,286; miscellaneous carloads, up 1,754 carloads to 10,824; and metallic ores and metals, up 400 carloads to 22,517.Commodities that logged decreases for the week included nonmetallic minerals, down 2,271 carloads to 31,809; coal, down 1,114 carloads to 88,543; and grain, down 638 carloads to 23,082.Meanwhile, Canadian railroads logged 82,129 carloads for the week, up 0.1 percent, and 73,115 intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with the same week in 2017. Mexican railroads reported carload activity fell 3 percent to 21,148 units, while intermodal volume rose 5 percent to 19,114 units.Through the first 49 weeks of 2018:• U.S. railroads reported total combined traffic of 26,565,621 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.6 percent;• Canadian railroads posted cumulative traffic of 7,421,846 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3.8 percent; and• Mexican railroads reported 1,900,979 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers.