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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventories Higher Again
by Tom Moeller November 16, 2005

Total business inventories in September added 0.5% to the prior month's 0.4% rise. The gains marked the strongest consecutive monthly increases since February & March yet they failed to reverse the decline in the ratio of inventories-to-sales which fell to a new record low. The I/S ratio fell to 1.25 as business sales increased 0.6% (7.8% y/y).

The 0.9% rise in retail inventories repeated its August increase due to a 2.1% jump in motor vehicle inventories. Excluding autos, inventories rose 0.4% as clothing inventories rose 0.5% (5.7% y/y) and general merchandise increased 0.4% (6.9% y/y). Furniture inventories fell 0.3% (+5.7% y/y) for the third consecutive down month.

Factory sector inventories fell for the second consecutive month.

Wholesale inventories increased 0.6%. 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.

Business Inventories Sept Aug Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Total 0.5% 0.4% 4.3% 7.7% 1.4% 1.6%
  Retail 0.9% 0.9% 1.1% 5.7% 3.9% 5.9%
    Retail excl. Autos 0.4% 0.6% 6.0% 5.9% 2.0% 2.3%
  Wholesale 0.6% 0.5% 8.0% 10.8% 2.0% 1.2%
  Manufacturing -0.2% -0.1% 4.9% 7.7% -1.1% -5.4%
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