WASHINGTON - The value of business inventories in April was up 0.3%, as expected by analysts and the MNI calculated prediction, data released by the Commerce Department Thursday morning showed.

Retail inventories increased 0.5%, revised down slightly from the advance estimate of a 0.6% gain. Data from the wholesale inventory report showed a 0.1% rise in the month, which was up from the flat reading expected in the advance report, while factory inventories were up 0.3%.

According to an MNI calculation, if a 0.7% increase in motor vehicle inventories had been excluded, business inventories would have still been up 0.3% in the month. The increase in motor vehicles was revised up from the 0.6% increase in the advance estimate.

After excluding the rise in motor vehicle inventories, the remaining retail categories would have posted a 0.4% increase, revised down from the advance estimate for a 0.5% gain. There were gains in every published category except at food and beverage stores and furniture stores.

According to an MNI calculation, the unpublished retail categories rose 0.7% following a 0.1% increase in March.

April business sales posted a 0.4% increase in the month, as predicted by MNI after the wholesale inventory data were released.

Retail sales excluding food services rose 0.4% in April, as reported earlier Thursday, while factory shipments, which are equal to sales in this report, were flat and wholesale sales rose 0.8%.

The inventory-to-sales ratio held steady at 1.35 in April due to the similar gains in sales and inventories this month. The ratio remains well below the 1.38 level seen in April 2017, as sales growth has outpaced inventory growth over the last year.

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