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Economy in Brief

U.S. Wholesale Inventory Gain Remains Stable; Sales Moderate
by Tom Moeller  August 8, 2014

Inventories at the wholesale level rose 0.3% last month (7.9% y/y) following a 0.3% May increase, revised from 0.5%. Inventories of durable goods gained 0.7% (8.8% y/y). The rise was led by a 3.2% surge (11.4% y/y) in metal inventories. Inventories of computer equipment rebounded 1.8% (6.5% y/y) while furniture inventories increased 1.0% (7.4% y/y). Machinery inventories rose 0.3% (12.5% y/y). In the nondurable goods sector, inventories fell 0.2% (+6.4% y/y) after a 0.5% May drop. These declines reflected a 5.3% drop (-0.6% y/y) in farm products after a 4.4% May shortfall. Chemical inventories gained 2.6% (7.0% y/y) and petroleum inventories rose 1.7% (0.2% y/y).

Wholesale sales edged 0.2% higher (6.5% y/y) during June. Durable goods sales rose 1.4% (6.6% y/y) powered by a 2.1% rise (6.4% y/y) in motor vehicles. Electrical equipment sales rose 0.8% (2.5% y/y) but furniture sales gained just 0.2% (0.4% y/y). Sales of nondurable products fell 0.7% (+6.5% y/y) as farm product sales were off 8.1% (-1.0% y/y). Chemical sales declined 1.4% (+8.8% y/y). Apparel sales also fell 0.2% (+9.2% y/y) but paper product sales rose 2.4% (9.2% y/y). Petroleum sales gained 1.0% (6.6% y/y).

The wholesale sector's inventory-to-sales ratio held m/m at 1.17, rising from 1.16 at year-end. In the durable goods sector, the I/S ratio declined to 1.57 but remained up from its low of 1.49 during all of 2011. In the nondurables sector, the I/S ratio of 0.83 neared the expansion low, held down by a 0.32 ratio in petroleum.

The wholesale trade figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

Wholesale Sector - NAICS Classification (%) Jun May Apr Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
Inventories 0.3 0.3 1.0 7.9 4.0 5.5 9.4
Sales 0.2 0.7 1.3 6.5 4.3 4.8 12.4
I/S Ratio 1.17 1.17 1.18 1.16 (June'13) 1.17 1.18 1.15
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