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Economy in Brief

U.S. Wholesale Inventories & Sales are Strong Again
by Tom Moeller  February 9, 2012

Inventories at the wholesale level jumped 1.0% (10.0% y/y) during December following no change in November. For all of last year inventories rose 10.0% following an 11.1% gain during 2010. Higher inventories of apparel (17.5% y/y), motor vehicles (17.1% y/y) and petroleum (16.1% y/y) were areas of December's strength as well as strong for the year. Excluding petroleum, inventories rose 0.9% (9.7% y/y) in December after a slight November decline.

Sales in the wholesale sector jumped 1.3% (11.8% y/y). A 0.4% gain had been expected. Petroleum sales rose 0.6% (16.5% y/y) and without petroleum sales jumped 1.4% (11.1% y/y). Again, sales of apparel were strong (9.3% y/y) as were motor vehicles (25.0% y/y). In addition, machinery purchases rose 5.2% for the month and 22.3% December-to-December.

The wholesale sector's inventory-to-sales ratio held at 1.15 for December and for the year. Stability was apparent in both durable as well as nondurable goods industries.

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

Wholesale Sector - NAICS Classification (%) Dec Nov Oct Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Inventories 1.0 0.0 1.2 10.0 10.0 11.1 -11.8
Sales 1.3 0.5 0.8 11.8 14.2 12.6 -16.1
I/S Ratio 1.15 1.15 1.15 1.18 1.15 1.16 1.30
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