The U.S. Census report on manufacturing and trade statistics showed a stronger than expected build in business inventories, rising 0.4% compared to the 0.3% median forecast.
The report is welcomed news for those waiting and watching for widely-expected upward revisions to fourth quarter (4Q) gross domestic product (GDP). The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will post the second estimate for 4Q GDP on February 28 and the final reading on March 28.
Retails sales, which were also released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau, were disappointing to say the least.
The combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for December, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes, was estimated at $1,431.3 billion, up 0.6% (±0.3%) from November 2017 and was up 6.7% (±0.4%) from December 2016.
Manufacturers’ and trade inventories, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $1,902.2 billion, up 0.4% (±0.1%) from November 2017 and were up 3.2% (±0.3%) from December 2016.
The total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of December was 1.33. The December 2016 ratio was 1.37.
The next release for manufacturing and trade statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau is scheduled for March 14, 2018.