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US corporate inventories unchanged in January by Reuters

US corporate inventories unchanged in January by Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Warehouse workers handle inventory stacked to the ceiling at an ABT Electronics facility in Glenview, Illinois, US on December 4, 2018 – REUTERS/Richa Naidu/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. business inventories held up unexpectedly in January as increases in retailers' inventories were offset by declines at manufacturers and wholesalers.

The reading was unchanged in business inventories reported by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau on Thursday after a 0.3% increase in December.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected inventories, a major component of gross domestic product, to rise by 0.2%.

Inventories rose 0.4% year over year in January.

Private investment in inventory subtracted 0.3 percentage points from GDP growth in the fourth quarter after providing a big boost in the third quarter. The economy grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in the October-December quarter. Growth estimates for the first quarter are converging around a 2.0% pace.

Retail inventories rose 0.4% in January, instead of the 0.5% estimated in an advance report published last month. They advanced 0.6% in December.

Auto inventories rose 0.8%, as previously expected. It accelerated by 1.1% in December.

Retail inventories excluding autos, which are factored into GDP calculations, rose 0.3% as reported last month. They rose 0.4% in December. Wholesale inventories fell 0.3% in January, while manufacturers inventories fell 0.1%.

Business sales fell 1.3% in January after remaining unchanged in December. At the pace of sales in January, it will take 1.39 months for companies to clear shelves, up from 1.38 months in December.

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