Inventories fell 1.3 percent in February

WASHINGTON Tue Apr 14, 2009 10:01am EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. business inventories fell 1.3 percent in February, a government report showed on Tuesday, pulled down by declining motor vehicle output.

The Commerce Department revised January inventories to a 1.3 percent drop, previously reported as a 1.1 percent fall. Motor vehicle and parts inventories fell 3 percent in February, it said.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast business inventories falling 1.2 percent in February.

The Commerce Department said business sales rose 0.2 percent in February after a revised 1.2 percent decline in January, which was previously reported as a 1 percent fall.

That left the inventories-to-sales ratio, which measures how long it would take to empty shelves at the current pace of sales, at 1.43 months' worth, the lowest since November, and down from 1.45 the prior month.

Compared to February last year, business inventories were 3.5 percent lower, while sales plummeted 13 percent, the department said.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Neil Stempleman)