|Inventories - M/M change||0.9%||-0.4%||-0.1%|
Wholesale inventories jumped a preliminary 0.9 percent in November following an upward revised 0.1 percent decline in October. Retail inventories also jumped, up 1.0 percent in November following an unrevised 0.4 percent decline in October. The build in wholesale inventories is split evenly between durable and nondurable goods with the build on the retail side concentrated in vehicles. The increases in this report are a surprise and, though a positive for the fourth-quarter GDP calculation and an offset to this morning's widening in the goods trade gap, will revive talk of unwanted inventories.
Wholesale trade measures the dollar value of sales made and inventories held by merchant wholesalers. It is a component of business sales and inventories.
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 a slower rate of growth that won't lead to inflationary pressures. Wholesale sales and inventory data give investors a chance to look below the surface of the visible consumer economy. Activity at the wholesale level can be a precursor for consumer trends. In particular, by looking at the ratio of inventories to sales, investors can see how fast production will grow in coming months. For example, if inventory growth lags sales growth, then manufacturers will need to boost production lest product shortages occur. On the other hand, if unintended inventory accumulation occurs (i.e. sales did not meet expectations), then production will probably have to slow while those inventories are worked down. In this manner, the inventory data provide a valuable forward-looking tool for tracking the economy.