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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventories Inch Higher
by Tom Moeller  November 15, 2016

Total business inventories increased 0.1% during September (0.6% y/y) following an unrevised 0.2% August gain. Total business sales improved 0.7%, and were up 0.8% y/y. The inventory-to-sales ratio eased to 1.38, down sharply from 1.41 during Q1.

New data in this report showed that retail inventories rose 0.2% (3.9% y/y) following a 0.6% increase, revised from a 0.7%. The gain was powered by a 0.7% surge (9.0% y/y) in motor vehicle inventories. Excluding autos, retail inventories were little changed (1.4% y/y). Furniture inventories declined 0.6%, (-1.5% y/y). Building material inventories grew 0.1% (4.0% y/y), but clothing inventories eased 0.1% (+1.0% y/y). Food & beverage store inventories gained 0.2% (2.3% y/y), but general merchandise store inventories fell 0.6% (-2.7% y/y). As reported earlier, wholesale inventories rose 0.1% (-0.1% y/y) while factory inventories were little changed (-1.9% y/y).

Business sales increased 0.7% in September (0.8% y/y) after a 0.3% gain. Retail sales increased 1.0% (2.9% y/y) while factory sector shipments improved 0.8% (-0.6% y/y) after a 0.2% rise. Wholesales trade sales increased 0.2% (0.4% y/y) after a 0.7% rise.

The overall business inventory-to-sales ratio eased m/m to 1.38, but was stable versus one year earlier. The retail I/S ratio fell to 1.49, while the ratio excluding autos also eased to 1.26. The wholesale sector I/S ratio remained steady at 1.33, and it eased to 1.34 in the factory sector.

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

Manufacturing & Trade Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Business Inventories (% chg) 0.1 0.2 -0.0 0.6 1.3 3.7 3.9
 Retail 0.2 0.6 -0.2 3.9 5.3 3.1 7.4
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles -0.0 0.3 -0.4 1.4 4.1 2.6 4.8
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.1 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 1.9 6.5 4.0
 Manufacturing -0.0 0.1 0.2 -1.9 -2.6 1.8 1.0
Business Sales (% chg)
Total 0.7 0.3 -0.3 0.8 -2.6 2.8 2.9
 Retail 1.0 -0.1 0.1 2.9 1.6 3.9 3.8
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.7 -0.1 -0.4 2.6 0.2 3.2 2.6
 Merchant Wholesalers 0.2 0.7 -0.6 0.4 -4.3 3.6 3.1
 Manufacturing 0.8 0.2 -0.4 -0.6 -4.4 1.2 2.1
I/S Ratio
Total 1.38 1.39 1.39 1.38 1.38 1.31 1.29
 Retail 1.49 1.50 1.49 1.48 1.46 1.43 1.41
  Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 1.26 1.27 1.27 1.28 1.27 1.24 1.23
 Merchant Wholesalers 1.33 1.33 1.34 1.33 1.32 1.21 1.18
 Manufacturing 1.34 1.35 1.36 1.36 1.36 1.31 1.30
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