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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventory Growth Is Stable
by Tom Moeller  July 16, 2012

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that during May, business inventories rose 0.3% for the third consecutive month. The modest gain lowered the y/y rise to 5.2%, its least since May of 2010. Business sales slipped 0.1% for the second consecutive month and the y/y increase fell to 5.1%, its least since December 2009. As a result, the inventory/sales ratio ticked up to 1.27, its highest in a year.

Retail sector inventories rose 1.0% due to a strong 1.9% rise (14.6% y/y) in motor vehicles. Inventories of home furnishings & appliances rose 0.8% (0.6% y/y). General merchandise inventories increased 0.9% (3.4% y/y) and apparel inventories gained 0.6% (4.8% y/y). Wholesale inventories increased 0.3% (6.4% y/y) while petroleum inventories fell 3.6% (-4.3% y/y). Less petroleum wholesale inventories rose 0.5% (7.1% y/y). Factory inventories fell 0.2% (+3.5% y/y).

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

Business Inventories(%) May Apr Mar May Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total 0.3 0.3 0.3 5.2 7.7 8.3 -9.4
 Retail 1.0 0.8 0.4 6.3 3.6 6.1 -10.1
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.6 0.2 -0.0 3.1 3.7 3.9 -4.8
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.3 0.5 0.3 6.4 9.9 10.1 -11.8
 Manufacturing -0.2 -0.2 0.1 3.5 9.4 8.8 -6.8
Business Sales (%)
Total -0.1 -0.1 0.2 5.1 11.3 9.7 -14.8
 Retail -0.2 -0.6 0.3 3.5 8.2 5.8 -7.9
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles -0.4 -0.7 -0.4 3.6 7.6 4.7 -6.4
 Merchant Wholesalers -0.8 0.6 0.4 5.7 13.5 11.6 -16.2
 Manufacturing 0.5 -0.2 0.1 4.9 11.8 11.2 -18.8
I/S Ratio
Total 1.27 1.26 1.26 1.27 1.26 1.27 1.39
 Retail 1.36 1.35 1.33 1.34 1.34 1.38 1.46
  Retail Excl. Motor Vehicles 1.20 1.19 1.18 1.21 1.21 1.24 1.30
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.18 1.17 1.17 1.17 1.16 1.18 1.31
 Manufacturing 1.27 1.28 1.28 1.29 1.27 1.28 1.39
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