WASHINGTON – The value of business inventories rose 0.4% in December, as expected, while sales surged 2.0%, data released Wednesday morning by the Commerce Department showed.

Retail inventories rose 0.1%, revised up slightly from the flat reading posted in the advance estimate. Already released data showed that wholesale inventories rose 1.0% in the month, while factory inventories were up 0.1%.

Overall business inventories would have been up 0.5% in December if a 0.6% decline in retail motor vehicle inventories was excluded, an MNI calculation showed.

After excluding the motor vehicle inventory drop, the remaining retail categories combined for a 0.4% increase, with the components all higher except for a 0.3% decline in furniture inventories.

The unpublished retail categories were up 0.6%, according to an MNI calculation. This followed a 0.4% increase in the previous month.

Business sales surged 2.0% in December. Retail sales excluding food services were up 1.2% in the month, as announced earlier Wednesday, while wholesale sales rose 2.6% and manufacturing shipments, which are equal to sales in this report, were up 2.2%.

With the small gain in business inventories and the much larger increase in sales, the inventory-to-sales ratio fell to 1.35 in December from 1.38 in November and 1.40 in December 2015. The current month's ratio is the lowest since 1.34 in December 2014.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.