The Cass Freight Index report for the month ended April 2019 paints a dire picture for freight heading into the end of the second quarter. The report says that "continued decline" in the freight index remains a concern, pointing out that shipments have fallen 3.4% year over year while expenditures have risen 6.2%. Sequentially on a monthly basis, shipments are down 0.3% while expenditures ticked up 0.7%.
From the report, Cass Information Systems says:
When the December 2018 Cass Shipments Index was negative for the first time in 24 months, we dismissed the decline as reflective of a tough comparison. When January 2019 was also negative, we again made rationalizations. Then February was down -2.1% and we said, "While we are still not ready to turn completely negative in our outlook, we do think it is prudent to become more alert to each additional incoming data point on freight flow volume, and are more cautious today than we have been since we began predicting the recovery of the U.S. industrial economy and the rebirth of the U.S. consumer economy in the third quarter of 2016."
When March was down -1.0%, we warned that we were preparing to 'change tack' in our economic outlook.