Cass Freight Index is up in November
December 02, 2010
The November edition of the Cass Information Systems Index pointed to an uptick in freight growth following a decline in October. The index, which measures the number of shipments and expenditures that are processed through Cass’s account payable systems, has been up in seven of the last nine months.
November shipments at 1.088 were up 2.8 percent compared to October’s 1.058 and represent the seventh straight month shipments have been more than 1.0, with May’s 1.014 shipment mark being the first time shipments topped 1.0 since November 2008. November shipments were up 15.3 percent year-over-year.
November shipment expenditures at 1.989 were up 0.7 percent compared to October’s 1.976 and were up 19.8 percent compared to November 2009.
As LM has previously noted, many trucking industry executives and analysts consider the Cass Freight Index as an accurate barometer of freight volumes and market conditions, with Credit Suisse analyst Chris Ceraso stating in research notes that the Cass Freight Index sometimes leads the American Trucking Associations (ATA) tonnage index at turning points, which lends to the value of the Cass Freight Index.
The ATA recently reported that its advance seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage index was up 0.8 percent in October, following a revised 1.8 percent increase in September. The ATA also reported that its not seasonally-adjusted index (NSA), which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, hit 112.9 in October for a 0.3 percent gain from September. Compared to October 2009’s 109.6 NSA, the October 2010 NSA is up 3.3 percent.
These Cass and ATA numbers represent an economic picture that has been cloudy for several months, with signs of optimism one month tempered by negative news the next. But with Black Friday Weekend sales showing signs of life, coupled with solid October retail numbers, there may be at least some guarded cause for optimism for future freight volumes at least in the short-term.
This type of sentiment was also apparent at last month’s TransComp expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with carriers and freight brokers telling LM they are seeing increased signs of demand in recent weeks.
“It may be a seasonal effect, but it is clear things are picking up on a sequential basis lately, but there is still a long way to go to really get back to where things were before the downturn,” a truckload carrier told LM at the event.
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