This Week’s Market Buzz

  • Canadian National Railway Co. reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and boosted its dividend, but lagged its main Canadian rival in a key efficiency measure. CN Rail said it is aiming to increase shipments of crude oil and frac sand in 2015 despite a steep decline in the price of oil. “There’s a lot of investments that are being made by our customers in the energy markets,” said Chief Executive Claude Mongeau on a call with analysts and investors. But Mongeau added that “there will be uncertainty. The price is obviously a key factor.” Canada’s biggest railway said it moved 128,000 carloads of crude and 89,000 carloads of frac sand in 2014, and sees a combined increase of 75,000 carloads in 2015.

  • The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) board approved a new study on frac sand mining in Wisconsin. The DNR wants to update a 2012 report on sand mining with more current information after Midwest Environmental Advocates presented a petition to the agency’s board in October 2014, seeking an industry analysis. The board gave the agency the go-ahead on a unanimous vote. The DNR plans to seek public input on what topics to address in the report in February and March. The process will include a public comment period and review of a draft report before the final document goes back to the board. The DNR doesn’t have a timeline for completion yet.
  • Frac-sand mining opponents in Minnesota are demanding a House committee meeting be canceled because it fails to set aside time for the public to testify. The House Mining & Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee is scheduled to conduct an informational hearing on silica-sand mining in St. Paul, Minn. Silica-sand producers and state agency representatives are slated to testify. The Land Stewardship Project sent a letter to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar), requesting the hearing be canceled and rescheduled to allow the public to weigh in on silica-sand mining.

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