WASHINGTON — Business inventories edged up 0.4% to $1,619.2 billion in October, while sales fell 0.4% to $1,257.7 billion, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
The October inventory gain followed an unrevised 0.7% uptick in September. The increase slightly surpassed the expectations of economists polled by Thomson Reuters, who predicted a 0.3% gain. Inventories climbed 5.7% over the same month in 2011.
The drop in October sales followed a revised 1.2% increase in September, originally reported as a 1.4% gain. October sales were 3.1% above sales for the same month in 2011. The month-to-month sales decline was the largest since a 1.2% drop in June.
The total business inventories/sales ratio based on a seasonally adjusted basis at the end of October was 1.29, slightly above the previous month's unrevised ratio of 1.28, and above the 1.26 October 2011 ratio.