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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventories Continue to Climb
by Tom Moeller  December 12, 2013

Total business inventories increased 0.7% in October (3.6% y/y) following a 0.6% September gain. These inventories accompanied a 0.5% rise in business sales (3.9% y/y) after September's 0.3% increase. As a result, the inventory-to-sales ratio remained at 1.29, where it's been since April.

Merchant wholesale inventories jumped 1.4% (3.3% y/y). Durable goods inventories rose 0.4% (4.1% y/y) following no change in September. Nondurable goods distributors inventories jumped 3.0% (2.2% y/y) led higher by a 17.0% rise (-22.8% y/y) surge in farm products. Wholesalers' inventory-to-sales ratio held m/m at 1.18. Factory sector inventories ticked up 0.1% (1.8% y/y) while the inventory-to-sales ratio held at 1.29.

In the retail sector, inventories advanced 0.8% (6.1% y/y) in October, including a 2.1% jump (11.5% y/y) in motor vehicles. Inventories excluding autos rose 0.2% (3.6% y/y) in October. Inventories of furniture, electronics and appliances rose 0.4% (-1.5% y/y) while building materials slipped 0.2% (+2.7% y/y). Food & beverage store inventories gained 0.7% (3.3% y/y) while apparel store inventories were off 0.2% (+2.6% y/y). General merchandise stores' inventories ricked up 0.1% (4.7% y/y). The retail inventory-to-sales ratio was stable m/m at 1.42.

October business sales rose 0.5% (3.9% y/y). Wholesale sales led the gain with a 1.0% increase (6.4% y/y). Retail sales gained 0.5% (4.0% y/y) while sales less autos were up 0.3% (2.6% y/y). Shipments from the factory sector edged up 0.1% (1.5% y/y).

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

Business Inventories (%) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total 0.7 0.6 0.4 3.6 5.1 7.9 8.8
 Retail 0.8 1.0 0.4 6.1 8.0 3.9 6.2
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.2 0.4 0.3 3.6 3.2 3.6 4.1
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.4 0.5 0.8 3.3 5.5 9.2 10.5
 Manufacturing 0.1 0.3 0.2 1.8 2.4 10.2 9.8
Business Sales (%)
Total 0.5 0.3 0.3 3.9 4.4 11.0 9.7
 Retail 0.5 0.0 0.2 4.0 5.1 7.7 5.8
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.3 0.4 -0.0 2.6 4.5 7.1 4.6
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.0 0.8 0.4 6.4 4.3 12.8 12.1
 Manufacturing 0.1 0.1 0.2 1.5 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 1.42 1.42 1.40 1.39 1.38 1.36 1.40
  Retail Excl. Motor Vehicles 1.22 1.22 1.22 1.20 1.22 1.23 1.26
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.18 1.18 1.18 1.22 1.19 1.17 1.17
 Manufacturing 1.29 1.29 1.29 1.29 1.29 1.29 1.28
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