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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventory Growth Is Moderate; I/S Ratio Near Record Low
by Tom Moeller  April 16, 2012

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that business inventories rose 0.6% during February following an upwardly revised 0.8% January gain. Business sales increased a moderate 0.7% after a 0.4% January rise. As a result, the inventory/sales ratio held at 1.28, about where it's been for two years.

Retail sector inventories rose 0.6% due to a strong 1.8% rise (10.3% y/y) in motor vehicles. Inventories of home furnishings & appliances rose 0.2% (-0.6% y/y). General merchandise inventories were unchanged (4.3% y/y) and apparel inventories slipped 0.1% (+7.0% y/y). Wholesale inventories rose a firm 0.9% (9.3% y/y) led by a 5.6% rise (15.4% y/y) in petroleum. Less petroleum wholesale inventories rose a still-strong 0.6% (9.0% y/y). Factory inventories rose 0.4% (7.9% 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.

The Slow Recovery: It's Not Just Housing from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

Business Inventories (%) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total 0.6 0.8 0.6 7.6 7.9 8.7 -9.3
 Retail 0.6 1.1 0.5 5.5 3.8 6.4 -10.0
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.2 0.4 0.4 3.7 3.6 3.8 -4.7
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.9 0.6 1.2 9.3 9.9 10.1 -11.8
 Manufacturing 0.4 0.6 0.2 7.9 9.5 8.7 -6.8
Business Sales (%)
Total 0.7 0.4 0.9 7.6 11.2 9.3 -14.6
 Retail 1.1 0.7 0.3 6.3 7.9 6.8 -7.8
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.8 0.9 1.1 6.4 7.2 5.7 -5.5
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.2 0.0 1.6 9.3 13.5 11.6 -16.2
 Manufacturing 0.1 0.6 0.8 7.1 11.3 8.6 -18.5
I/S Ratio
Total 1.28 1.28 1.27 1.28 1.27 1.29 1.39
 Retail 1.32 1.33 1.32 1.33 1.33 1.37 1.46
  Retail Excl. Motor Vehicles 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.19 1.23 1.30
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.17 1.17 1.17 1.17 1.17 1.18 1.31
 Manufacturing 1.33 1.33 1.33 1.32 1.33 1.32 1.41
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