The Cass Freight Index for U.S. domestic shipments took a steep 9.9 percent dive in October from the month before, cutting short a two-month rally in the closely watched measure.
The shipments index still gained 2.2 percent over the same month a year ago. But the first sequential decline since July also left the Cass Information Systems index at its lowest level since February.
The setback in domestic demand followed declines in September in various international measures, including ocean import volume, that signaled a meek peak shipping season was winding down earlier than usual.
At 1.081, the shipments index was 14.5 percent behind the reading four years ago, in October 2007.
The Cass index for shipping expenditures also showed seasonal weakness, slipping 4 percent from September to October. The spending index was 16.1 percent above the same month a year ago, in part because energy prices have grown sharply over the past year.