–Excluding Autos, Wholesale Inventories Still +0.3%, Sales Up 0.7%

By Kevin Kastner

WASHINGTON (MNI) – The value of wholesale inventories rose 0.3% in
March, while sales were up 0.5%, data released Wednesday morning by the
Commerce Department showed.

As a result, the overall inventory-to-sales ratio held steady at
1.17, but was still up from 1.15 in March 2011.

The value of durable inventories rose 1.0% in the month, with auto
inventories rose 0.4%. The remaining durables components were up in the
month, with the exception of flat readings for electrical equipment and

Nondurables inventories fell 0.6% on declines in a number of
components, particularly a 5.9% drop in petroleum inventories and 0.6%
decline in grocery inventories.

Durables goods sales fell 0.6%, led by a 1.7% decline in auto sales
and a 4.8% decline in sales of miscellaneous durable goods.

Nondurable goods sales rose 1.5%, with petroleum goods sales up

Excluding the auto category, wholesale inventories would have still
been up 0.3% in March after a 1.1% rise in the previous month. Sales
would have been up 0.7% in March if auto sales was excluded. This
followed a 1.2% rise in February.

Before seasonal adjustment, total wholesale inventories rose 8.3%
from March 2011, while unadjusted sales were up 3.9% year over year.

Factory inventories already reported up 0.3% in March, so the
outlook for business inventory growth appears for modest growth pending
the retail inventories data when they are released.

** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **