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U.S. Business Inventories Rise More Than Expected In March

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Partly reflecting a jump in retail inventories, the Commerce Department released a report on Friday showing a bigger than expected increase in U.S. business inventories in the month of March.

The report said business inventories climbed by 0.4 percent in March after edging down by 0.1 percent in February. Economists had expected inventories to rise by 0.2 percent.

The bigger than expected increase in inventories came as retail inventories surged up by 1.0 percent in March after climbing by 0.7 percent in February.

Manufacturing inventories also rose by 0.2 percent in March after falling by 0.5 percent in February, while wholesale inventories inched up by 0.1 percent after sliding by 0.6 percent in the previous month.

The report also showed a modest rebound in business sales, which increased by 0.3 percent in March following a 0.3 percent drop in February.

Sales by wholesalers and manufacturers rose by 0.7 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, while retail sales fell by 0.3 percent.

With inventories and sales both rising, the total business inventories/sales ratio in March was unchanged from the previous month at 1.41. The ratio came in at 1.37 a year ago.

Compared to the same month a year ago, business inventories were up by 1.5 percent but business sales were down by 1.7 percent.

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