Business inventories for manufacturers and trade in January rose 0.8% (±0.1%) from December to $2,013.9 billion, beating the forecast and outpacing sales. They are up 5.3% (±0.4%) from January 2018.
The consensus forecast was 0.5%, ranging from a low of 0.1% to a high of 0.6%. All data are adjusted for seasonal and trading day differences but not for price changes.
Sales are lagging, which often serves as a red flag for a slowdown.
The combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for January was estimated at $1,449.6 billion, up 0.3% (±0.3%) from December 2018 and 2.8% (±0.3%) from January 2018.
The total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of January was 1.39. The January 2018 ratio was 1.36.