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.

Subscribe Now

Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the bond buying industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.