The United States' freight downturn got even worse in October as a key indicator of shipping activity turned sharply lower.
The closely watched Cass Freight Index of shipments fell 16.9 percent in October compared to the same month last year, deeper than even the 16.6 percent decline the index measured in September.
The October index also was down 2.8 percent from September, suggesting retailers and manufacturers are reining in their logistics activity just when distribution usually scales up for the fall peak season. Instead, the index released by freight payment company Cass Information Systems dipped to 1.050, its lowest point of the year and the lowest level the index has measured since January 2004.
It was also the worst October the Cass Freight Index has measured since 2002. The shipment index has declined year-over-year every month this year and at a double-digit pace since June.
The separate Cass index of freight expenditures also fell year-over-year for the second straight month, slipping 1.7 percent in October.