Cass Freight Index turns in another solid performance in September

Freight shipments and expenditures in September each saw annual increases, according to the most recent edition of the Cass Freight Index Report from Cass Information Systems.

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Freight shipments and expenditures in September each saw annual increases, according to the most recent edition of the Cass Freight Index Report from Cass Information Systems, which was released today.

Many freight transportation and logistics executives and analysts consider the Cass Freight Index to be the most accurate barometer of freight volumes and market conditions, with many analysts noting 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.

Both the Shipments and Expenditures Indexes extended their run of positive YoY comparisons. Shipments turned positive ten months ago, while Expenditures turned positive nine months ago,” wrote the report’s author Broughton Capital Founder and Managing Partner Donald Broughton. Throughout the U.S. economy, we are continuing to see a growing number of data points suggesting that the economy continues to get incrementally better. The 3.2% YoY increase in the September Cass Shipments Index is yet another data point which confirms that the first positive indication in October (before the election) was a change in trend.  In fact, it now looks as if the October 2016 Cass Shipments Index, which broke a string of 20 months in negative territory, was one of the first indications that a recovery in freight had begun.” 

September shipments, at 1.147, were up 3.2% annually and down 0.9% compared to August.

The report observed that parcel volumes associated with e-commerce continue to show outstanding rates of growth, with both FedEx and UPS reporting strong U.S. domestic volumes. And according to the proprietary Broughton Capital index in the most recent month available (June), airfreight has also been showing improving strength, with the Asia Pacific lane jumping 9.5% and the Europe Atlantic lane growing 7.6% on a YoY basis. 

September expenditures, at 2.507, rose 4.6% annually and were up 0.3% compared to August.

On an annual basis, this follows increases of 7.4% in May, and matching 4.5% gains, respectively in June and July, and a 9.7% jump in August.

Broughton said September’s increase was “still respectable and indicative of an economy that is continuing to expand.

“Expenditures (or the total amount spent on freight) turned positive for the first time in 22 months in January 2017, albeit against an easy comparison,” wrote Broughton. “Not since 2011—when the economy was still climbing out of the recession—had this index been so low. Our Expenditures Index in January 2016 was the worst in five years, as demand had weakened and crude oil had fallen below $30 a barrel. Although February and March of 2016 were also weak, they were not nearly as weak as January 2016 and hence a slightly tougher comparison. Since fuel surcharges are included in the Expenditures Index, fuel was a negative bias in the data last year.”  

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