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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventories Remain Unchanged
by Tom Moeller  August 13, 2013

Total business inventories were unchanged versus May (3.5% y/y) following that month's 0.1% downtick, last month reported as a 0.1% uptick. The figure was accompanied by a 0.2% rise (4.9% y/y) in business sales. As a result, the inventory-to-sales ratio remained unchanged at 1.29, about where it's been for the last year.

In the retail sector, inventories ticked 0.1% higher (5.6% y/y) as motor vehicle inventories gained 0.5%  (11.4% y/y). Inventories excluding autos slipped 0.1% (+3.1% y/y). Inventories of furniture, electronic and appliances fell 1.8% (-3.3% y/y) but food & beverage stores inventories slipped just 0.2% (+2.2% y/y). Apparel store inventories also slipped 0.2% (+2,4% y/y). General merchandise inventories increased 0.3% (5.0% y/y) and building material stores inventories edged 0.1% higher (3.1% y/y.  The retail inventory-to-sales ratio of 1.41 remained nearly its highest since September 2010.

Merchant wholesale inventories fell 0.2% (+2.9% y/y). The y/y gain remained down sharply versus the prior two years. Restraint continues in both durable and nondurable good industries. The inventory-to-sales ratio fell further following its May drop. Factory sector inventories inched up 0.1% (2.3% y/y). The inventory-to-sales ratio held m/m at 1.30.

Business sales gained 0.2% (4.9% y/y) led by a 0.8% rise (6.2% y/y) in retail sales. Retail sales less autos rose 0.2% (4.5% y/y). Merchant wholesale sales gained 0.4% (5.6% y/y). Shipments by the factory sector fell 0.4% (+3.2% y/y).

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

Business Inventories(%) Jun May Apr Jun Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total 0.0 -0.1 0.2 3.5 5.1 7.9 8.8
 Retail 0.1 0.5 0.5 5.6 8.0 3.9 6.2
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles -0.1 0.2 0.3 3.1 3.5 3.6 3.9
 Merchant Wholesalers -0.2 -0.6 -0.1 2.9 5.5 9.2 10.5
 Manufacturing 0.1 -0.1 0.1 2.3 2.4 10.2 9.8
Business Sales (%)
Total 0.2 1.1 0.0 4.9 4.4 11.0 9.7
 Retail 0.8 0.6 0.1 6.2 5.1 7.7 5.8
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.2 0.3 -0.2 4.5 4.4 7.1 4.6
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.4 1.5 0.7 5.6 4.3 12.8 12.1
 Manufacturing -0.4 1.0 -0.7 3.2 4.0 12.1 11.0
I/S Ratio
Total 1.29 1.29 1.30 1.30 1.29 1.27 1.28
 Retail 1.40 1.41 1.41 1.40 1.38 1.36 1.40
  Retail Excl. Motor Vehicles 1.22 1.22 1.22 1.23 1.22 1.23 1.26
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.17 1.18 1.21 1.20 1.19 1.17 1.17
 Manufacturing 1.30 1.30 1.31 1.31 1.29 1.29 1.28
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