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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventories' Accumulation Still Slowing
by Tom Moeller January 15, 2008

Total business inventory accumulation continued to moderate and rose 0.4% during November. The three month change in inventories of 3.9 (AR) is less than half the rate of accumulation in mid-2006.

Retail inventories fell 0.1% as inventories excluding autos dropped 0.4% (+2.9% y/y). That y/y rate of accumulation is nearly half the rate last year. Furniture inventories fell 0.5% (+5.5% y/y) and the three month change continued too strong at 12.9% (AR). At clothing & accessory stores inventories fell 0.2% and the three month was quite under control at a manageable -1.7%. Inventories at general merchandise stores also were under control and fell 1.8% in November. Three month growth fell to a negative 4.7%.

Wholesale inventories jumped 0.6% as petroleum inventories surged 2.6% lifting the three month change to 31.9% (AR). During the last ten years there has been a 59% correlation between the annual change in wholesale inventories les petroleum and the change in merchandise imports.

Factory inventories jumped 0.8% and three month growth of 6.2% is well up from being little changed early this year.

Business Inventories November October Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Total 0.4% 0.1% 3.5% 5.9% 6.2% 7.9%
  Retail -0.1% 0.3% 3.4% 3.2% 2.8% 6.8%
    Retail excl. Autos -0.4% 0.6% 2.9% 4.5% 4.5% 7.2%
  Wholesale 0.6% -0.0% 4.3% 8.6% 7.4% 9.7%
  Manufacturing 0.8% 0.2% 2.9% 6.4% 8.9% 7.7%
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