Inventories at U.S. wholesalers fell unexpectedly in February as uncertainty about U.S. fiscal policy kept business spending in check.
The 0.3 percent decrease in stockpiles followed a revised 0.8 percent gain in January that was less than originally reported, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.5 percent gain. Sales rose 1.7 percent in February after falling 0.8 percent the prior month.
At the current pace of sales, wholesalers had enough goods on hand to last 1.19 months, down from 1.21 months in January, the report showed.
The median forecast for wholesale inventories was based on a Bloomberg survey of 29 economists. Estimates ranged from increases of 0.2 percent to 1.4 percent. The drop in inventories was the biggest since a 0.7 percent decline in September 2011.
Wholesalers’ stockpiles of durable goods, or those meant to last several years, increased 0.2 percent, boosted by business equipment, according to today’s report.
The value of unsold non-durable goods fell 0.9 percent, led by pharmaceuticals and agriculture products.
The sales gain was led by a 10.6 percent increase in petroleum.
Wholesalers, which make up about 30 percent of all business stockpiles, might be feeling the effects of improved consumer confidence as Americans looked beyond budget rancor in Congress and continued to spend.
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