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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventory Growth Eases
by Tom Moeller  January 12, 2012

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that business inventories rose 0.3% during November following a 0.8% rise in October. Business sales also rose 0.3%. As a result, the inventory/sales ratio held at 1.27 for the fourth straight month. For November, inventories were 8.5% higher than one year earlier, and sales were up 9.6%.

In the retail sector, inventories rose 0.3% m/m after an upwardly revised 0.2% October gain. Motor vehicle & parts inventories increased a moderate 0.6% (3.3% y/y) while excluding autos inventories gained 0.2% (4.2% y/y). Inventories of building materials fell 0.4% (+1.8% y/y) and food & beverage store inventories ticked up 0.1% (5.6% y/y). Apparel inventories also rose 0.3% (10.8% y/y), furniture & equipment rose 0.2% (-2.4% y/y) and no change (3.8% y/y) at general merchandise stores. Wholesale inventories ticked up 0.1% led by a 1.5% rise (16.4% y/y) in petroleum. Less petroleum wholesale inventories also rose 0.1% (10.2% y/y). Factory inventories rose a firm 0.5% (10.9% y/y). 

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.

Business Inventories (%) Nov Oct Sept Nov Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Total 0.3 0.8 0.0 8.5 8.6 -9.3 -1.2
 Retail 0.4 0.6 1.3 6.3 6.8 -7.8 -1.6
   Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.2 0.0 0.2 4.2 3.7 -4.7 -3.0
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.1 1.2 0.0 10.5 11.0 -11.8 3.7
 Manufacturing 0.5 0.9 0.1 10.9 8.7 -6.8 -4.1
Business Sales (%)
Total 0.3 0.6 0.6 9.6 9.3 -14.6 2.3
 Retail 0.3 0.6 1.3 7.0 6.8 -7.8 -1.6
    Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.3 0.5 0.5 6.7 6.1 -6.3 2.1
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.6 0.8 0.3 11.3 12.6 -16.1 5.9
 Manufacturing 0.0 0.5 0.3 10.2 8.6 -18.5 2.3
I/S Ratio
Total 1.27 1.27 1.27 1.28 1.28 1.39 1.32
 Retail 1.32 1.32 1.32 1.36 1.37 1.46 1.51
    Retail Excl. Motor Vehicles 1.18 1.18 1.18 1.21 1.23 1.30 1.29
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.15 1.15 1.15 1.16 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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