U.S. wholesale inventories, sales edge up in September

09:47, November 10, 2010      

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Latest figures showed that U.S. wholesale inventories and sales further picked up momentum in September, but economists held that U.S. consumption might not post robust surges in the near future amid the economy's slackening expansion pace.

Inventories at the wholesale level added 1.5 percent in September from August to 417 billion U.S. dollars, or 7.9 percent up from a year ago, a ninth consecutive monthly rally, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Tuesday figures revealed.

Sales nationwide continued to register modest gains for the third consecutive month, with sales at the wholesale level up 0.4 percent in September from August to 353.9 billion U.S. dollars, and were up 11.9 percent from a year earlier.

The monthly wholesale inventories uptick was mainly boosted by an increase in items including automobile, furniture, machinery and apparel.

Economists noted that the U.S. wholesale inventories and sales slow growth in recent months were fresh evidence of the economy's ongoing recovery, as consumption accounted for around 70 percent of the total economic activity in the world's largest economy.

Businesses' incentives of restocking store shelves was a major engine for the manufacturing and economic recovery in the United States after suffering the worst recession in decades.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual pace of 2 percent in the third quarter this year, as personal consumption picked up steam but the nation's real estate sector still remained lackluster. The third-quarter growth rate was quicker than a 1.7-percent growth in the second quarter, but not strong enough to bring down the 9.6 percent unemployment rate.

The total business inventories-to-sales ratio in September ticked up slightly to 1.18 from 1.17 in August. But the ratio is lower than the 1.22 figure in September 2009.

This ratio is a measure of how long it would take to deplete stocks at the current sales pace. Usually, adding inventories are seen as a sign of increase of confidence in future demand. Analysts look at the inventories-to-sales ratio to determine how to interpret the data.

Experts held that with traditional shopping sprees during the festivals including Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in the fourth quarter, it was understandable that business owners pile up inventories, but the 1.18 ratio was still far away from the more than 1.4 percent peak level at the end of 2008.

Economists predicted that U.S. inventories and sales were not likely to post robust surges in the near future, as the nation was still facing challenges including a stubbornly high unemployment rate and slow paycheck increase pace.



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