WASHINGTON — The value of wholesale inventories rose 0.1% in July, matching a sales gain of the same size, data released Wednesday morning by the U.S. Commerce Department showed.
As a result, the overall inventory-to-sales ratio held steady at 1.17 in July, tying June for the lowest since September 2011. The current month's ratio was down from 1.21 in July 2012.
Excluding the auto category, wholesale inventories would have still been up 0.1% in July after a 0.1% decline in the previous month, an MNI calculation showed. Sales, however, would have been up 0.4% in July if auto sales were excluded. This followed a 0.4% rise in June.
The value of durable inventories rose 0.6% in the month, as auto inventories were up 0.4% and the remaining durables components were generally higher with the exception of professional equipment and hardware.
Nondurables inventories, however, fell 0.8% on a 10.1% drop in farm products. There were also inventory declines in the drugs, alcohol, and miscellaneous categories. The petroleum category saw a 3.3% rise in inventories.
Durables goods sales fell by 0.6%, led by a 3.1% drop in auto sales. There were mixed readings in the remaining durables components.
Nondurable goods sales rose 0.7%, with the components generally higher. Petroleum sales were up 1.9%.
Factory inventories were reported as up 0.2% in July, so the outlook for business inventory growth appears to be for a modest gain pending the retail inventories data when they are released on Friday.
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