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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventory Growth Decelerates
by Tom Moeller  June 13, 2012

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that business inventories rose 0.4% during April. The modest gain lowered the y/y rise to 6.0%, its least since July of 2010. Business sales again rose 0.2%, but the y/y increase nonetheless fell to 5.4%, its least since February 2010. As a result, the inventory/sales ratio held at 1.26, about where it's been for two years.

Retail sector inventories rose 0.6% due to a strong 1.9% rise (12.7% y/y) in motor vehicles. Inventories of home furnishings & appliances rose 0.2% (-1.1% y/y). General merchandise inventories increased 0.4% (2.7% y/y) but apparel inventories slipped 0.2% (+5.1% y/y). Wholesale inventories rose a firm 0.6% (9.3% y/y) led by a 2.0% rise (6.3% y/y) in petroleum. Less petroleum wholesale inventories rose 0.5% (8.4% y/y). Factory inventories were unchanged (4.8% y/y).

The manufacturing and trade data are in Haver's USECON database.

Business Inventories(%) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total 0.4 0.3 0.6 6.0 7.9 8.7 -9.3
 Retail 0.6 0.4 0.5 5.4 3.8 6.4 -10.0
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.1 -0.0 0.2 2.7 3.6 3.8 -4.7
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.6 0.3 0.9 8.2 9.9 10.1 -11.8
 Manufacturing 0.0 0.1 0.3 4.8 9.5 8.7 -6.8
Business Sales (%)
Total 0.2 0.2 0.8 5.4 11.2 9.3 -14.6
 Retail -0.3 0.3 1.1 5.0 8.2 5.8 -7.9
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles -0.4 -0.4 0.4 3.8 7.6 4.7 -6.4
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.1 0.4 1.1 6.8 13.5 11.6 -16.2
 Manufacturing -0.3 0.1 0.4 4.4 11.3 8.6 -18.5
I/S Ratio
Total 1.26 1.26 1.26 1.25 1.27 1.29 1.39
 Retail 1.34 1.33 1.33 1.34 1.33 1.37 1.46
  Retail Excl. Motor Vehicles 1.19 1.18 1.19 1.21 1.21 1.24 1.30
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.17 1.17 1.17 1.15 1.17 1.18 1.31
 Manufacturing 1.28 1.28 1.28 1.28 1.33 1.32 1.41
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