A key measure of industrial shipping in the US has shown a further 3.5 per cent decline from February to March after offering a glimmer of hope in February when it showed its first fractional gain in six months. The Cass Freight Index for shipments declined 22 per cent in March from the same period a year earlier. Freight transportation spending also turned negative after a slim month-to-month gain in February. The measure of expenditures fell 2.1 per cent from February to March and was down a record 23.8 per cent compared to March 2008. The March drop ran counter to the usual seasonal trend of a shipping pickup towards the end of the first quarter in anticipation of rising spring retail sales. Instead, the index for shipments produced by St. Louis-based freight payment company Cass Information Systems dipped from 0.938 to 0.905 in March, the third-worst reading reported since 1992.