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Economy in Brief

U.S. Inventories Up Slightly
by Tom Moeller November 15, 2004

Total business inventories edged 0.1% higher in September following strong accumulation during most of this year.

Retail inventories slipped 0.4% due to a sharp 1.3% decline in motor vehicle inventories (+12.1% y/y). Non-auto inventories advanced 0.2% though m/m declines were widespread amongst categories.

Wholesale inventories rose 0.5% (9.8% y/y). During the last ten years there has been a 63% correlation between the y/y change in wholesale inventories and the change in imports of merchandise.

Overall business sales rose 0.3% (+10.4% y/y) following strong gains during the prior two months.

The ratio of inventories-to-sales was stable at 1.32 for the third consecutive month and versus 1.37 averaged last year.

Business Inventories Sept Aug Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Total 0.1% 0.7% 7.3% 1.9% 1.5% -4.5%
  Retail -0.4% 0.5% 7.2% 4.9% 6.0% -2.8%
    Retail excl. Autos 0.2% 0.4% 5.5% 3.0% 2.6% -1.1%
  Wholesale 0.5% 1.1% 9.8% 2.2% 0.4% -4.5%
  Manufacturing 0.3% 0.7% 5.7% -1.3% -1.8% -6.1%
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