WASHINGTON — The value of business inventories in February rose by 0.6%, as expected by analysts and the MNI calculation prediction, following the wholesale inventories report last Tuesday, as seen in the data released by the Commerce Department Monday morning.

business inventories

Retail inventories increased 0.4%, unrevised from the advance estimate published on March 28. Data from the wholesale inventory report showed a 1.0% rise in the month (largest percentage change since Oct. 2013), while factory inventories were up 0.3%. Since retail inventories were unrevised, this did not alter MNI's calculated expectation for a 0.6% rise in business inventories.

According to an MNI calculation, if a 0.9% increase in motor vehicle inventories is excluded, business inventories would have been up 0.5% in the month, slightly softer than the total. The increase in motor vehicles was revised up 0.1pp from the advance estimate.

After excluding the 0.9% increase for motor vehicle inventories, the remaining retail categories would have seen a 0.2% rise, unrevised from the advance estimate. There were gains in all retail categories, with the largest increase outside of motor vehicles being furniture (+1.0%) after falling 0.3% in January.

According to an MNI calculation, the unpublished retail categories were down 0.7%, following a 0.6% decrease in January.

February business sales saw a 0.4% rise, following a 0.3% decline in February, pushing the year-over-year up to a 5.8% increase.

Retail sales excluding food services posted a third consecutive decline, falling 0.1% in the month, while wholesale sales increased by 1.0%, following a 1.5% decrease in January. Manufacturing shipments, which are equal to sales in this report, rose 0.2% in February.

Since both business inventories and sales rose in the month, the inventory-to-sales ratio remained at 1.35 in February. However, the ratio remains below the 1.37 level seen in February 2017, as sales have continued to outpace inventory growth over the last year.

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