U.S. Wholesale Inventories Edge Slightly Lower In December

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With a drop in inventories of durable goods more than offsetting an uptick in inventories of non-durable goods, the Commerce Department released a report on Tuesday showing a modest decrease in U.S. wholesale inventories in the month of December.

The report said wholesale inventories edged down by 0.1 percent in December after sliding by a revised 0.4 percent in November. The modest drop in inventories matched economist estimates.

The decrease came as inventories of durable goods fell by 0.3 percent in December following a 0.4 percent drop in the previous month.

The Commerce Department pointed to a steep drop in inventories of metals and minerals, except petroleum, which tumbled by 4.4 percent.

On the other hand, the report said inventories of non-durable goods inched up by 0.1 percent in December after falling by 0.3 percent in November.

Inventories of chemicals and allied products jumped by 2.3 percent, while inventories of petroleum and petroleum products plummeted by 7.8 percent.

The Commerce Department also said wholesale sales fell by 0.3 percent in December following a 1.3 percent drop in November.

Sales of non-durable goods slumped by 0.9 percent during the month, more than offsetting a 0.3 percent increase in sales of durable goods.

A 4.5 percent decrease in sales of petroleum and petroleum products contributed to the drop in sales of non-durable goods.

With wholesale inventories and sales both falling, the inventories/sales ratio for merchant wholesalers in December was unchanged from the previous month at 1.32. The ratio came in at 1.24 in the same month a year ago.

Compared to the same month a year ago, wholesale inventories were up by 1.9 percent in December, while wholesale sales were down by 4.5 percent.

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