WASHINGTON Feb 13 U.S. business inventories
rose as expected in December, but slowed down significantly
The Commerce Department said on Thursday inventories
increased 0.5 percent after rising 0.4 percent in November.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast inventories rising
0.5 percent in December.
Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product
changes. Retail inventories, excluding autos - which go into the
calculation of GDP - gained 0.2 percent after advancing 0.6
percent in November.
The government in its advance estimate for fourth-quarter GDP
said inventories increased $127.2 billion, the largest rise
since the first quarter of 1998.
The change in inventories from the third quarter added 0.42
percentage point to the fourth-quarter's 3.2 percent annualized
growth rate, confounding economists' expectations for a slower
pace of restocking, which would have weighed on output.
Economists believe the current level of inventory is
unsustainable and expect businesses will step back to work
through current stocks in the first quarter, which would
restrain growth in the first three months of 2014.
Business sales rose 0.1 percent in December, after gaining
0.7 percent the prior month.
At December's sales pace, it would take 1.30 months for
businesses to clear shelves, up from 1.29 months in November.