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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventories Post Increase Moderately
by Tom Moeller  June 13, 2013

Total business inventories gained 0.3% (4.2% y/y) after having been roughly unchanged for two months. The figure was accompanied by a 0.1% slip (+1.5% y/y) in business sales, the second month of decline. As a result, the inventory-to-sales ratio ticked up to 1.31, its highest level since October 2009.

In the retail sector, inventories rose 0.4% (6.6% y/y) led by a 0.5% rise (13.1% y/y) in motor vehicles. Inventories excluding autos rose 0.4% (3.9% y/y). The increase was led by a 1.1% rise (5.6% y/y) in apparel inventories. General merchandise inventories rose 0.4% (5.0% y/y). Building material stores raised inventories 3.8% y/y while inventories at food & beverage stores rose 1.9% y/y. Furniture and appliance store inventories fell 0.6% (-1.4% y/y).  The retail inventory-to-sales ratio of 1.41 remained its highest since September 2009.

Merchant wholesale inventories gained 0.2% (4.1% y/y). The y/y gain, however, was less than half that of the prior two years. The restraint continues in both durable and nondurable good industries. The inventory-to-sales ratio has been trending higher. Factory sector inventories rose 0.2% (2.3% y/y). The inventory-to-sales ratio rose to 1.31, its highest since October 2009.

Business sales slipped 0.1% (+1.5% y/y). Wholesale sales gained 0.5% (0.7% y/y). Factory shipments also were down by 0.7% (+0.6% y/y). As reported earlier, retail sales rose 0.7% (3.5% y/y). Sales excluding autos slipped 0.1% (+2.6% y/y).

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

Business Inventories(%) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total 0.3 -0.1 0.0 4.2 5.1 7.9 8.8
 Retail 0.4 -0.6 0.2 6.6 8.0 3.9 6.2
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.4 -0.7 0.4 3.9 3.5 3.6 3.9
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.2 0.3 -0.4 4.1 5.5 9.2 10.5
 Manufacturing 0.2 0.0 0.2 2.3 2.4 10.2 9.8
Business Sales (%)
Total -0.1 -1.2 1.3 1.5 4.4 11.0 9.7
 Retail 0.7 0.0 -0.4 3.5 5.1 7.7 5.8
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles -0.1 -0.4 1.2 2.6 4.4 7.1 4.6
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.5 -1.4 1.3 0.7 4.3 12.8 12.1
 Manufacturing -0.7 -1.5 1.3 0.6 4.0 12.1 11.0
I/S Ratio
Total 1.31 1.30 1.29 1.27 1.29 1.27 1.28
 Retail 1.41 1.40 1.40 1.37 1.38 1.36 1.40
  Retail Excl. Motor Vehicles 1.22 1.22 1.22 1.22 1.22 1.23 1.26
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.21 1.22 1.19 1.17 1.19 1.17 1.17
 Manufacturing 1.31 1.30 1.28 1.29 1.29 1.29 1.28
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