WASHINGTON — Business inventories remained virtually unchanged at $1.64 trillion in March, while sales fell 1.1% to $1.27 trillion, the Commerce Department reported Monday.
The unchanged March inventory followed a similarly flat February, originally reported as a 0.1% advance. The inventory figure was weaker than the expectations of economists polled by Thomson Reuters, who predicted a 0.3% gain.
On a year-over-year basis, inventories still climbed 4.5% over the same month in 2012.
The March sales decrease followed a revised 1% jump in February that was originally reported as a 1.2% increase. The March sales decline was the largest since a 1.2% drop between May and June 2012.
March sales were 1.8% above sales for the same month in 2012.
The total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of January was 1.29, higher than the previous month's ratio of 1.28 and the 1.26 ratio in March 2012.