U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters (“lakers”) carried 9.8 million tonnes of dry-bulk cargo in May, an increase of 19 per cent over April, and 3.1 per cent better than a year ago. Iron ore cargoes for the steel industry increased 5.2 per cent compared to a year ago.  Aggregate and fluxstone for construction and steelmaking rose 12.4 per cent. Coal for power generation and steel production dipped 8.7 per cent.

Since November of 2011, U.S. coal consumption for generation of electrical power has declined significantly in favour of increased consumption of natural gas, which, on a comparative basis, is priced lower than coal. Most analysts are expecting a continuation of the trend to substitute gas for coal for electrical power generation until natural gas prices rise to a level that is about 20 per cent higher than today’s prices.

The continuation of higher levels of shipments of industrial commodities across all industries suggests that the economic recovery in the United States is continuing.