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US business inventories dipped in November 2019 after October growth

U.S. business inventories fell slightly more than expected in November 2019 after showing growth the previous month, driven by declines in retailers' and merchant wholesalers' stockpiles, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.

Manufacturer and trade inventories were estimated at $2.037 billion in November 2019, seasonally adjusted, down 0.2% from October's revised total of $2.041 billion, when stockpiles of goods grew 0.1%.

Economists polled by Econoday had expected a 0.1% decline in business inventories for November.

Inventories held by manufacturers were up 0.3% on a monthly basis, improving slightly from the 0.2% growth rate recorded in the previous month.

However, retailers' and merchant wholesalers' inventories declined 0.8% and 0.1%, respectively. In October 2019, revised Census Bureau data showed retailers' and merchant wholesalers' inventories skidded 0.1% apiece.

Total U.S. business sales, seasonally adjusted, were up 0.7% month over month, to $1.466 trillion, in November.

The inventory-to-sales ratio, which indicates the number of months it would take for businesses to clear shelves, dipped month over month to 1.39 in November from 1.40 the previous month.