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U.S. business inventories rise, sales drop biggest in three years

U.S. business inventories rise, sales drop biggest in three years

WASHINGTON: U.S. business inventories increased in December as sales recorded their biggest drop in three years, potentially pointing to an unplanned piling up of unsold goods.

The Commerce Department said on Monday that business inventories rose 0.6 percent after being unchanged in November.

Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product. December’s increase was in line with economists’ expectations.

The December business inventory report was delayed by a five-week partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on Jan. 25. The January report, which was scheduled to be published on Thursday, will now be released on April 1.

Retail inventories rebounded 0.9 percent in December as previously reported in an advance report last month. Retail inventories fell 0.4 percent in November.

Motor vehicle inventories rose 0.6 percent rather than the 0.7 percent rise reported last month. That followed a similar gain in November. Retail inventories excluding autos, which go into the calculation of GDP, increased 1.0 percent in December as reported last month.

Wholesale inventories jumped 1.1 percent in December and stocks at manufacturers were unchanged.