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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventories Fall While Sales Improve
by Tom Moeller  December 14, 2016

Total business inventories declined 0.2% during October (+0.4% y/y) following no change in September, revised from a 0.1% increase.

New data in this report showed that retail inventories declined 0.4% (+3.3% y/y) following no change. The decline was led by a 1.0% drop (-2.4% y/y) in furniture & electronics inventories. Motor vehicle inventories declined 0.7% (+7.9% y/y), while general merchandise inventories fell 0.6% (-2.8% y/y). Apparel inventories eased 0.1% (+0.5% y/y), but building materials inventories gained 0.3% (3.4% y/y). Wholesale inventories declined 0.4% (-0.4% y/y) and factory inventories were unchanged (-1.4% y/y). 

Business sales increased 0.8% in October (2.1% y/y) as they did in the prior month. Retail sales increased 0.7% (4.1% y/y) while wholesale trade sales rose 1.4% (2.2% y/y). Factory shipments improved 0.4% both m/m and y/y.

The overall business inventory-to-sales ratio eased m/m to 1.37, and was down versus one year earlier. The retail I/S ratio fell to 1.47, while the ratio excluding autos also eased to 1.25. The wholesale sector I/S ratio fell to  1.30, and it was stable at 1.34 in the factory sector.

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

Manufacturing & Trade Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Business Inventories (% chg) -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 1.3 3.7 3.9
 Retail -0.4 0.0 0.6 3.3 5.3 3.1 7.4
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles -0.2 -0.1 0.3 0.9 4.1 2.6 4.8
 Merchant Wholesalers -0.4 0.1 -0.1 -0.4 1.9 6.5 4.0
 Manufacturing 0.0 -0.1 0.1 -1.4 -2.6 1.8 1.0
Business Sales (% chg)
Total 0.8 0.8 0.3 2.1 -2.6 2.8 2.9
 Retail 0.7 1.0 -0.1 4.1 1.6 3.9 3.8
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.8 0.8 -0.1 3.9 0.2 3.2 2.6
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.4 0.4 0.7 2.2 -4.3 3.6 3.1
 Manufacturing 0.4 0.9 0.2 0.4 -4.4 1.2 2.1
I/S Ratio
Total  1.37 1.38 1.39 1.39 1.38 1.31 1.29
 Retail 1.47 1.49 1.50 1.48 1.46 1.43 1.41
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.29 1.27 1.24 1.23
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.30 1.32 1.33 1.33 1.32 1.21 1.18
 Manufacturing 1.34 1.34 1.35 1.36 1.36 1.31 1.30
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