Freight shipments declined 3.7 percent in July from the previous month, a sign the sluggish economy is slipping, Cass Information Systems said Wednesday.
The July drop was the first negative sequential reading for the Cass Freight Shipments Index since May, when it fell 0.2 percent after rising for three months.
The shipping volume index rose 4.9 percent in June, hitting a three-year high.
Freight payments also dropped 2.1 percent from July, although they were up 29.5 percent year-over-year, reflecting increases in spot market and contract rates.
For Cass, the drop in shipments and freight spending represents more than the typical June-to-July slowdown for truckers before their fall shipping peak.
“The recovery has almost lost steam,” said Cass, which bases its monthly shipping index on $17 billion in freight bills paid by more than a hundred large shippers.
“So far growth has continued to be on the positive side, although just barely,” the freight payment company said, noting slower growth in manufacturing.
U.S. consumer spending fell in June for the first time in almost two years.
July’s shipment volume level was still 11 percent higher than a year ago, an increase from the 5.3 percent year-over-year rise in shipments Cass reported in June.