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Economy in Brief

U.S. Wholesale Inventories & Sales Rise
by Tom Moeller  August 9, 2017

Inventories at the wholesale level increased 0.7% during June following a 0.6% May rise, revised from 0.4%. Inventories rose a moderate 2.9% y/y. The latest gain was the strongest in six months.

Durable goods inventories increased 0.5% (3.6% y/y) following a 0.6% rise. Motor vehicle inventories strengthened 1.4% (4.4% y/y), while furniture inventories gained 0.6% (5.9% y/y). Inventories of computers and peripherals jumped 1.7% (15.2% y/y), while machinery inventories rose 0.5% (-1.6% y/y) following a 0.6% rise. Inventories of nondurable goods increased 1.0% (1.6% y/y), following a 0.6% rise. The value of petroleum inventories declined 5.2% (+4.6% y/y) with lower prices. Chemical inventories improved 0.6% (2.2% y/y). Apparel inventories rose 0.2% (-8.4% y/y) for the second straight month, while paper and paper product stockpiles rose a steady 0.6% (1.9% y/y).

Wholesale sales also increased 0.7% (5.6% y/y) after a 0.1% May slip, revised from -0.5%. A 0.1% rise was expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Nondurable goods sales jumped 1.4% (5.1% y/y) as petroleum sales gained 1.9% (11.0% y/y). Chemical sales fell 1.9% (+3.2% y/y). Apparel sales declined 1.3% (-8.1% y/y) after a 4.2% jump. Sales of paper products rose 0.8% (4.7% y/y) while grocery product sales increased 0.8% (5.0% y/y). Sales by durable goods wholesalers held steady (+5.8% y/y). Computer sales declined 1.2% (+2.3% y/y), and machinery sales fell 0.8% (+2.2% y/y). Electrical equipment sales strengthened 1.3% (7.1% y/y) while motor vehicle distributors' sales slipped 0.5% (+9.6% y/y). Furniture sales were off 1.4% (-1.1% y/y).

The wholesalers' inventory-to-sales ratio rose to 1.29 but fell sharply from 1.32 twelve months earlier.

The durable goods I/S ratio of 1.62 compared to the 1.74 high in January 2016. The machinery I/S ratio of 2.89 was reduced from 3.00 a year earlier. The motor vehicles ratio of 1.79 declined y/y from 1.88. The furniture I/S ratio of 1.70 was up y/y from 1.59, while the metals ratio held steady at 2.00. The I/S ratio of 0.89 in computers and equipment was up y/y from 0.79. In the nondurable goods sector, the I/S ratio of 0.97 was down from 1.00 a year ago. The petroleum industry ratio of 0.41 compared to 0.44 one year earlier. The ratio in the chemical sector of 1.19 compared y/y to 1.20, and the ratio in the apparel sector was a steady 2.11.

The wholesale trade figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economic Survey results are contained in AS1REPNA.

Wholesale Sector - NAICS Classification (%) Jun May Apr Jun Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Inventories 0.7 0.6 -0.4 2.9 2.6 1.1 5.8
Sales 0.7 -0.1 -0.3 5.6 -0.5 -4.9 3.6
I/S Ratio 1.29 1.29 1.28 1.32 (June '16) 1.33 1.32 1.21
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