Both sides of the Cass Freight Index turned positive in January. Shipments posted a 1.005, 3.2 percent above last January, though 6.4 percent under December. Expenditures rose 4.3 percent over last year to 2.268, just 0.3 percent down from December.
“Throughout the U.S. economy, there is a growing number of data points that suggest that the worst is over and the economy is getting better,” wrote Donald Broughton, managing director of Avondale Partners. “Some data points are simply less bad, but an increasing number of them are better, and even a few are becoming outright strong. The 3.2 percent increase in the January Cass Shipments Index is yet another data point which strongly suggests that the first positive indication in October may have indeed been a change in trend. In fact, it now looks as if the October index, which broke a string of 20 months in negative territory, was one of the first indications that a recovery in freight had begun in earnest.”
The expenditures index hit positive territory for the first time in 22 months.
“Over the last several months, we have observed that part of this increase was a result of the steady increase in the price of fuel over the last six months (and the recent rise in the price of crude should only add to this positive bias), but we are also seeing some improvements in pricing power of truckers and intermodal shippers,” Broughton wrote. “As an example, the proprietary Cass Truckload Linehaul Index (which measures linehaul pricing and does not include fuel) only fell 0.3 percent on a year-over-year basis in the month of January.”
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