November 15, 2018 / 3:02 PM / a month ago

U.S. business inventories rise modestly in September

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. business inventories increased modestly in September amid a slowdown in stock accumulation at retailers.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday business inventories rose 0.3 percent after increasing 0.5 percent in August. September’s increase in inventories, which are a key component of gross domestic product, was in line with economists’ expectations.

Retail inventories edged up 0.1 percent in September as reported in an advance estimate published last month. Retail inventories increased 0.6 percent in August.

Motor vehicle inventories advanced 0.4 percent in September rather than the 0.3 percent rise reported last month. Auto inventories surged 1.8 percent in August.

Retail inventories excluding autos, which go into the calculation of GDP, slipped 0.1 percent in September as estimated last month. They dipped 0.1 percent in August. Wholesale inventories rose 0.4 percent in September and stocks at manufacturers gained 0.5 percent.

Inventories rebounded in the third quarter after being depleted in the April-June period. Inventories added 2.07 percentage points to the third quarter’s 3.5 percent annualized growth rate.

Given strong domestic demand, businesses are likely to continue boosting stocks of goods, which should underpin production at factories and support economic growth in the fourth quarter.

Business sales increased 0.4 percent in September after climbing 0.5 percent in August. Sales at retailers rebounded 0.2 percent after slipping 0.1 percent in August.

At September’s sales pace, it would take 1.34 months for businesses to clear shelves, unchanged from August.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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