Business Sales and Inventories Expand 0.3% in August

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Business sales and inventories are both up 0.3%, according to an August Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.

Seasonally adjusted sales increased 0.3% to $1,298 billion, due primarily to a 0.6% increase in merchant wholesaler sales. Manufacturers and retailers both registered 0.2% gains. Last year, merchant wholesalers also made the biggest gains, up 5.6% compared to total business sales growth of 4.2%.

Inventories mirrored the sales increase in August, bumping up a seasonally adjusted 0.3% to $1,668 billion and matching analyst expectations. Merchant wholesaler supplies expanded the most, up 0.5%. In the last year, overall inventories were up 3.1%, as retailers roar ahead with a 5% inventories increase.

To understand the rate at which goods are being made and sold, economists compute an inventories/sales ratio. Since sales and inventories both increased at a fairly similar rate, the inventories/sales ratio remained at July's 1.29 value. The August 2012 ratio was 1.30.



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