Business inventories were down 0.2% and sales levels fell 2.0% in September, according to Commerce Department data released Friday.

Business inventories slid to $1.507 billion following a downwardly revised 0.2% increase in August to $1.511 billion, originally reported as a 0.3% gain. Thomson Reuters had projected that business inventories would be unchanged in the month. Overall inventories were 5.5% above the September 2007 level, according to Commerce.

Stocks of autos — by far the largest component of inventories — fell 0.3% in September, following August’s 1.8% decrease. The category is down 2.9% from the previous September.

Meanwhile, the 2.0% decrease in overall business sales brought the category to $1.164 billion. The September figure followed a revised 2.2% decrease in August, originally reported as a 1.8% drop.

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