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Economy in Brief

U.S. Wholesale Inventories Dip As Sales Gain
by Tom Moeller  November 9, 2011

Inventories at the wholesale level slipped 0.1% (+11.9% y/y) during September following a 0.1% August uptick. The decline was led by a 4.0% fall (+13.2% y/y) in petroleum. Less petroleum, inventories rose 0.1% (11.9%) as industry changes were mixed. Durable goods inventories rose 0.4% (12.0% y/y) led by a 2.7% jump (12.5% y/y) in machinery. Other durables inventories were strong as well. Nondurables inventories were mixed m/m.

Sales in the wholesale sector rose a firm 0.5% (15.0% y/y). Again, a 3.9% rise in petroleum led the sales gain. Less petroleum, sales slipped 0.1% (+11.5% y/y). Sales of durable goods fell 0.4% due to widespread industry weakness. Sales of nondurable goods also posted widespread industry declines.

The wholesale sector's inventory-to-sales ratio held m/m at a low 1.15. A slight uptick in durable goods industries was offset be sharp declines in the nondurables sector.

The wholesale trade figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The expectation figure is in AS1REPNA.

Generation Recession? How The Recession May Change America from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is available here.

Wholesale Sector - NAICS Classification (%) Sep Aug Jul Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Sales 0.5 1.0 0.3 15.0 12.6 -16.1 5.9
Inventories -0.1 0.1 0.8 11.9 11.0 -11.8 3.7
I/S Ratio 1.15 1.15 1.16 1.16 1.16 1.30 1.21
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