U.S. wholesale inventories fell 1.3% in August as sales increased 1.0%, aided by the largest increase in wholesale auto sales in 10 years, the Commerce Department said yesterday.
July inventories were revised down to a 1.6% decline from the originally reported 1.4% drop. Sales were up a revised 0.6% in July, originally reported as a 0.5% increase.
Wholesale inventories have declined for a record 12 consecutive months as sales have increased for five months in a row.
Economists expected wholesale inventories to decline 1.0% and for sales to increase 0.7%, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.
Auto sales increased 7.7% in August, the largest monthly increase since February 1999, amid the federal “cash for clunkers” rebate program. Despite the spike, wholesale auto sales were down 12.9% from the same period a year ago.
The ratio of inventories to sales, a measure of how quickly goods are sold, decreased to 1.20 from 1.23 in July.