U.S. businesses continue to pare down inventories

The nation's businesses continue to reduce excess inventory as they cut costs and re-align their operations with consumer demand. Business inventories fell in 1.1 percent in June, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Thursday, led by a decline in retail inventories.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected inventories to decline 0.8 percent in June. Inventories fell a revised 1.2 percent in May and 1.3 in April. What's more, inventories have fallen 9.8 percent in the past year, and have declined for 10 straight months.