NEW YORK - Chemical shipments on U.S. railroads fell 10.1 percent last week, according to a report from the Association of American Railroads on Thursday.

Chemicals shipments on trains, called rail-car loadings, are a measure of demand for products ranging from plastics to fertilizers.

For the week ended Aug. 22, chemical rail car loadings fell to 27,530 from 30,264 in the year-ago period, the AAR said.

The figures often provide an early glimpse of broader trends for the chemical industry as well as manufacturing, according to analysts.

The weekly data indicated that year-to-date rail car chemical loadings have fallen 16.1 percent versus the corresponding period in 2008.

Rail car loadings represent about 21 percent of chemical volumes by tonnage. Trucks, barges and pipelines carry the rest. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; editing by Gunna Dickson)