March continues growth in line with expectations

The report’s shipment reading—at 1.196—headed up 10% annually, well outpacing February’s 4.1% annual gain that was impacted by harsh winter weather, and was also up 5.8% compared to February and up 3.4% compared to February on a seasonally-adjusted (SA) basis.

Freight shipments and expenditures, for the month of March, posted annual and sequential gains, according to the new edition of the Cass Freight Index, which was published this week by Cass Information Systems.

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.

Cass analysts expect further increase over 30% in Q2

The report’s author Tim Denoyer, ACT Research vice president and senior analyst, observed that the freight volume improvement seen in March is consistent with the report’s optimistic outlook that is supported by inventory levels, consumer trends, and the backlog of freight anchored off of U.S. ports.

“Near-term supply chain risks remain and, following the Suez Canal blockage, could briefly spread beyond the semiconductor shortages that will affect vehicle production at least through Q2 and perhaps considerably longer,” he wrote. “However, if the Cass shipments index just takes a normal seasonal pattern from here, it will be up over 30% [annually] in Q2.”

March 2021 represents the 3th highest monthly climb record

Expenditures continued to climb in March, rising 27.5%, to 3.379 annually and were also up 7.9% compared to February and were up 6.5% on a SA basis.

This represented the third-highest monthly reading on record, for the third time in four months, with author Denoyer noting the gains came evenly from volume and rates.

“Strong momentum continued in freight rate trends with this month nearly off the chart, and we sense an axis adjustment on the way,” he wrote. “ This acceleration suggests Q2 [annual] comparisons will be in the 40%-50% range, compared to the shutdown [a year ago at that time].”