–April Wholesale Inventory/Sales Ratio Hits Record Low
–Petroleum Inventories Surge, Sales Drop, Inv/Sales Ratio Record High

By Kevin Kastner

WASHINGTON (MNI) – The value of wholesale inventories rose for the
fourth straight month in April, but only partially offset a rise in
wholesale sales, data released Wednesday morning by the Commerce
Department showed.

The 0.4% rise in wholesale inventories, which was led by another
solid gain in the value of petroleum stocks, was overshadowed by a 0.7%
rise sales.

As a result, the inventory-to-sales ratio hit a record low 1.13 in
April, down from 1.14 in March and well below the 1.36 ratio a year ago,
an indication that wholesalers are still cautiously holding the line on
stocks despite a clear indication of sales improvement.

Factory inventories were already reported up 0.5% in April, so the
outlook for business inventories data when it is released Friday is for
a solid gain.

On a not-seasonally adjusted basis, wholesale inventories were down
3.2% from a year ago, while sales were up 16.5%.

Petroleum products inventories were up 6.9% seasonally adjusted in
April from March, following a solid monthly gain of 5.1% in March. At
the same time, petroleum sales fell 3.5% in April from March. The
petroleum inventory/sales ratio rose to a record high 0.53 in April.

** Market News International Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **