April 9, 2014 11:00 AM, EDT

Cass Freight Index Improves in March

Tom Biery/Trans Pixs

The March Cass Freight Index rose 0.4% over the same month last year and improved 6.6% above February’s level, reflecting an improving market for motor carriers and other transport providers.

“Shipment volume and total freight payments continued to climb in March, ending the first quarter on a high note,” the report said. “Bad weather continued to plague many parts of the country, but transportation seemed to be less affected than January or February.”

The report linked the improvement to a stronger economy, saying “manufacturing and production have turned a corner and are back in expansion mode.”

Cass Information Systems compiles shipment and payment data primarily from truck freight. The index is based on $23 billion worth of freight bills annually that are processed by the company that is affiliated with a St. Louis bank.

Freight payments increased 5.3% on a year-over-year basis and 5.4% sequentially from February, putting the index at the second-highest level in four years.