|Inventories - M/M change||0.0%||-0.2% to 0.3%||0.0%||0.1%||0.0%|
There's evidence of economic weakness coming from inventory data where inventories are being kept down but are still building relative to sales. Business inventories were unchanged for a second month in August while sales fell a sizable 0.6 percent, driving up the inventory-to-sales ratio to 1.37 from 1.36.
Inventory downscaling is underway in manufacturing which is being hurt by weak exports. Manufacturing inventories fell 0.3 percent in both August and July against a major sales decline of 0.7 percent in August and a 0.2 percent dip in July. There's less inventory downscaling, at least right now, among wholesalers where inventories rose 0.1 percent but sales at wholesalers are even weaker, down 1.0 percent in the month. Retail, the third component, is not immune with sales down 0.1 percent but inventories up 0.3 percent.
Inventories are looking heavy which could limit production and employment growth and could emerge as a new concern for the doves at the Fed.
Market Consensus Before Announcement
Business inventories are expected to remain unchanged in August following a small 0.1 percent gain in July. Inventories ended the second quarter on the heavy side and, given moderate sales conditions, look to be flat in the third quarter.
Business inventories are the dollar amount of inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. The level of inventories in relation to sales is an important indicator of the near-term direction of production activity. (Bureau of the Census)
Investors need to monitor the economy closely because it usually dictates how various types of investments will perform. The stock market likes to see healthy economic growth because that translates to higher corporate profits. The bond market prefers more moderate growth that won't generate inflationary pressures.
Rising inventories can be an indication of business optimism that sales will be growing in the coming months. By looking at the ratio of inventories to sales, investors can see whether production demands will expand or contract in the near future. For example, if inventory growth lags sales growth, then manufacturers will have to boost production lest commodity shortages occur. On the other hand, if unintended inventory accumulation occurs (that is, sales do not meet expectations), then production will probably have to slow while those inventories are worked down. In this manner, the business inventory data provide a valuable forward-looking tool for tracking the economy.
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