WASHINGTON - Sales of merchant wholesalers fell 1.4% to $402.9 billion in June after dropping a revised 1.1% in May, originally reported as a 0.8% decline, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
The May decrease stood in contrast to the 0.2% increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.
The drop was led by a 5.3% decline in the sales of petroleum and petroleum products, but was somewhat softened by increases of 1.4% in automotive sales and 1.1% in grocery sales.
The June sales figure was 3.1% above the level for the same month a year ago.
Inventories were down 0.2% to $481.9 billion for June after remaining unchanged in May. That month was originally reported as a 0.3% advance in inventory levels..
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted that inventory levels would rise 0.3%. Driving the decline was a sharp drop in petroleum inventories, a force which was partially offset by a 1.1% bump in machinery inventories.
The June level of inventories was 9.1% above the level the same month a year ago.
June's inventories/sales ratio for merchant wholesalers, except manufactures’' sales branches and offices, was 1.20, an increase over the previous month's 1.18 ratio. One year ago, the ratio was 1.17.