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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventory Accumulation Continued Slow
by Tom Moeller July 15, 2005

Total business inventories rose just 0.1% in May following a downwardly revised 0.2% gain in April. The three month change in inventories dropped to 3.3% (AR) versus the 12.1% peak rate of accumulation through last August. The ratio of inventories-to-sales held at the record low of 1.30.

Retail inventories rose 0.2% in May and the three month change remained low at 2.1% versus the peak of 12.4% last April. Excluding autos, however, retail inventories jumped 0.6% due to a 1.5% (7.1% y/y) surge in furniture.

Factory sector inventories were unchanged for the second month and three month growth fell to 2.7%.

Wholesale inventories rose just 0.1% and three month growth fell to 5.7%. During the last ten years there has been a 64% correlation between the y/y change in wholesale inventories and the change in imports of merchandise.

Overall business sales fell 0.1% (+6.9% y/y) following the 12.2% jump during April.

Business Inventories May April Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Total 0.1% 0.2% 7.0% 7.7% 1.4% 1.6%
  Retail 0.2% 0.1% 3.7% 5.7% 3.9% 5.9%
    Retail excl. Autos 0.6% 0.2% 6.1% 5.9% 2.0% 2.3%
  Wholesale 0.1% 0.7% 10.4% 10.8% 2.0% 1.2%
  Manufacturing 0.0% -0.0% 7.7% 7.5% -1.3% -1.8%
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