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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventories Rise Moderately
by Tom Moeller  October 30, 2013

Total business inventories increased 0.3% during August (3.1% y/y) following a 0.4% July rise. The figure was accompanied by a 0.3% gain (4.2% y/y) in business sales which came after a 0.6% July increase. As a result, the inventory-to-sales ratio remained unchanged at 1.29, where it's been for the last year.

In the retail sector, inventories increased 0.3% (5.0% y/y) as motor vehicle inventories gained 0.2% (8.3% y/y). Inventories excluding autos rose 0.3% (3.5% y/y). Inventories of furniture, electronic and appliances fell 0.3% (-2.8% y/y) but food & beverage stores inventories slipped just 0.1% (+2.3% y/y). Apparel store inventories also slipped 0.1% (+2.0% y/y). General merchandise inventories ticked up 0.1% (4.5% y/y) and building material stores inventories rose 0.4% (2.6% y/y. The retail inventory-to-sales ratio held at 1.40.

Merchant wholesale inventories increased 0.5% (2.5% 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 held on to its earlier decline. Factory sector inventories rose 0.2% (1.9% y/y). The inventory-to-sales ratio held m/m at 1.29.

Business sales rose 0.3% (4.2% y/y) led by a 0.6% rise (5.6% y/y) in wholesale sales. Retail sales increased 0.2% (4.7% y/y) while sales less autos were unchanged (3.1% y/y). Shipments by the factory sector improved 0.2% (2.7% y/y).

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

Business Inventories (%) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total 0.3 0.4 0.1 3.1 5.1 7.9 8.8
 Retail 0.3 0.8 0.1 5.0 8.0 3.9 6.2
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.3 0.8 -0.1 3.5 3.2 3.6 4.1
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.5 0.2 -0.2 2.5 5.5 9.2 10.5
 Manufacturing 0.2 0.3 0.2 1.9 2.4 10.2 9.8
Business Sales (%)
Total 0.3 0.6 0.2 4.2 4.4 11.0 9.7
 Retail 0.2 0.4 0.8 4.7 5.1 7.7 5.8
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.0 0.7 0.3 3.1 4.5 7.1 4.6
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.6 0.0 0.4 5.6 4.3 12.8 12.1
 Manufacturing 0.2 1.1 -0.3 2.7 4.0 12.1 11.0
I/S Ratio
Total 1.29 1.29 1.29 1.30 1.29 1.27 1.28
 Retail 1.40 1.40 1.40 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 1.17 1.17 1.21 1.19 1.17 1.17
 Manufacturing 1.29 1.29 1.30 1.39 1.29 1.29 1.28
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