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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventory Growth Holds Steady
by Tom Moeller  October 14, 2011

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that business inventory growth held steady in August at 0.5%. A 0.4% increase was expected and July was revised from 0.4%. Business sales increased a moderated 0.3%. As a result, the inventory/sales ratio held at 1.28. By August, inventories were 10.5% higher than August 2010, and sales were up 11.8%.

In the retail sector, the 0.8% gain in inventories was the strongest since March as was the 0.6% nonauto increase. Motor vehicle & parts inventories were strongest with a 1.5% gain (3.4% y/y) while clothing & accessory inventories rose 1.2% (8.1% y/y). Inventories of general merchandise rose 0.3% (3.4% y/y) while furniture slipped 0.1% (-0.3% y/y). Inventory/sales ratios held low.

The manufacturing and trade data are in Haver's USECON database. Note that in a value-added feature, the database includes series calculated by Haver database managers showing sales, inventories and I/S ratios for total business less motor vehicle dealers and related wholesale operations. The latest gain in inventories compared to an expected 0.4% increase according to Bloomberg.

Business Inventories (%)

Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Total 0.5 0.5 0.4 10.5 8.6 -9.3 -1.2
 Retail 0.8 0.1 0.2 4.1 6.1 -10.0 -4.4
   Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.6 -0.1 0.2 4.3 3.7 -4.7 -3.0
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.4 0.8 0.6 14.4 11.0 -11.8 3.7
 Manufacturing 0.4 0.6 0.4 12.9 8.7 -6.8 -4.1
Business Sales (%)
Total 0.3 0.7 0.5 11.8 9.3 -14.6 2.3
 Retail 1.1 0.3 0.5 8.1 6.8 -7.8 -1.6
    Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.5 0.5 0.4 8.0 6.1 -6.3 2.1
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.0 0.3 0.6 15.2 12.6 -16.1 5.9
 Manufacturing -0.2 1.2 0.6 12.1 8.6 -18.5 2.3
I/S Ratio
Total 1.28 1.28 1.28 1.29 1.28 1.39 1.32
 Retail 1.34 1.34 1.34 1.39 1.37 1.46 1.51
    Retail Excl. Motor Vehicles 1.19 1.19 1.19 1.23 1.23 1.30 1.29
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.16 1.16 1.16 1.17 1.16 1.30 1.21
 Manufacturing 1.34 1.33 1.33 1.33 1.33 1.41 1.27
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