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February 10, 2014 8:15 AM, EST
Cass Freight Index Falls in January
Paul Taggart/Bloomberg News

The Cass Freight Index, a measure of shipping activity in trucking and other transportation modes, dropped in January while expenditures rose, Cass Information Systems said.

Shipping fell 2% in January from the year before and 3.6% from December in the fourth consecutive month-to-month decline, Cass said.

“January sees a post-holiday drop-off and is also the slowest month of the year,” Cass said in its Feb. 6 report. “Volumes rise throughout the spring, flatten or even drop during the summer months, peak in August-September, then fall close to the levels at which the year started. This year begins the same, with January shipment levels the lowest since 2010.”

Many indicators for January do not point to a quick turnaround for the economy, Cass said.

Freight expenditures increased 1.4% in January from last year but fell 5.1% month-over-month.

“Movements in our freight expenditures index have been stronger than those for shipment volumes, indicating that there has been very modest growth in rates,” Cass said. “The trucking sector is still unable to push rates up significantly, while the railroads have made more headway.”