WASHINGTON — The value of business inventories rose 0.7% to another record high level in September, while retail inventories rose 0.3% to add to the inventory gains at the factory and wholesale levels already announced, data released Wednesday morning by the Commerce Department showed.
Analysts in an MNI survey had expected total business inventories to rise 0.6%. Factory inventories were already reported up 0.6% in the month, while wholesale inventories rose 1.1%.
Overall business inventories would have been up only 0.6% in September if a sharp rise in retail motor vehicle inventories was excluded, an MNI calculation showed.
Retail motor vehicle and parts inventories jumped 0.9%, despite a 1.7% rise in sales that month. The remaining retail inventories categories combined for a flat reading in September.
Outside of motor vehicles, there were retail inventory gains in the building materials, food and beverage, and clothing categories. Offsetting those were decline in the furniture and general merchandise categories.
An MNI calculation of retail inventories not included in the published categories shows a 0.2% increase in September after a 0.4% rise in the previous month.
Business sales jumped 1.4% in September, the largest monthly increase since a 2.4% rise in March 2011. Retail sales excluding food services were up 1.3% in the month, while wholesale sales were already reported up 2.0% and manufacturing shipments, which are equal to sales in this report, rose 0.9%.
As a result of the rise in business inventories and sharp increase in sales in September, the inventory-to-sales ratio fell back to 1.28 in the month from 1.29 in August. The September ratio was still above the 1.25 ratio in September 2011. Before seasonal adjustment, the ratio was 1.31 in September, up sharply from 1.22 in August and 1.25 in September 2011.
Business sales were up from a year ago, 0.9% ahead of their September 2011 level before seasonal adjustment and up 4.4% after seasonal adjustment.
At the same time, September business inventories were 6.0% above their year-ago levels before seasonal adjustment and up 6.2% after seasonal adjustment.
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