U.S. wholesale inventories rose by more than expected in the month of February, according to figures released Tuesday by the Department of Commerce, with wholesale sales also showing a notable increase.
Commerce Department figures put the level of inventories for wholesalers at a seasonally adjusted level of $478.9 billion in February, reflecting a 0.9 percent increase from January levels. Most economists had expected a more modest 0.6 percent increase in inventories.
Furthermore, January figures, which had initially shown a 0.4 percent increase in inventories, were upwardly revised to show 0.6 percent growth.
Compared to February of 2011 levels, wholesale inventories were up by 9.3 percent.
The inventory growth was largely fueled by a 1.4 percent increase in inventories of non-durable goods, while inventories of durable goods rose by 0.5 percent.
Steep drops in inventories of automotive goods, down 0.9 percent, and paper products, down 2.6 percent, were more than offset by a 5.6 percent increase in petroleum inventories. Inventories of groceries, hardware and machinery also saw notable growth.
The Commerce Department estimated that February wholesale sales came in at a seasonally adjusted level of $409.4 billion, reflecting a 1.2 percent increase from January levels and a 9.3 percent increase compared to the same month a year ago.
As with inventories, the growth in sales came primarily in the non-durable sector, which saw a 1.4 percent increase in whole sales. Durable goods sales rose by 0.9 percent.
Petroleum and hardware sales grew the most at the wholesale level, while furniture, apparel and electrical sales showed declines.
The growth in both inventories and sales left the inventories-to-sales ratio for February unchanged at 1.17.
by RTT Staff Writer
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