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--Retail Inventories Down 0.3% 
--Total Business Inventories Excluding Retail Auto Rise 0.1%
--Unpublished Retail Components Up 0.3%, MNI Calculation Shows
By Harrison Clarke
     WASHINGTON (MNI) - The value of business inventories in March was 
flat, as expected by both an MNI survey and the Bloomberg consensus, 
data released by the Commerce Department Wednesday morning showed. 
     Retail inventories posted 0.3% decline, while the wholesale 
inventories report showed a 0.1% decrease in the month, and factory 
inventories were already reported to be up 0.4%. 
     According to an MNI calculation, if a 0.9% decrease in motor 
vehicle inventories had been excluded, total business inventories would 
have been up 0.1% in March.  
     After excluding the decrease in motor vehicle inventories, the 
remaining retail categories posted a flat reading. All of the other 
retail inventory components were generally down in March, with building 
materials and food and beverage stores being the exceptions. 
     At the same time, the relatively large unpublished retail category 
rose 0.3% following a 1.1% increase in February, according to an MNI 
     March business sales posted a 1.6% increase in the month, and 
retail sales excluding food services were up 1.8% in March. There was a 
previously announced 0.7% increase for factory shipments, which are 
equal to sales in this report, and wholesale sales posted a 2.3% gain. 
     The inventory-to-sales ratio fell to 1.37 in March from 1.39 in 
February due to slower growth in inventories compared to sales in March. 
The ratio was up from the 1.36 level seen in March 2018, as inventory 
growth has outpaced sales growth over the last year. 
     ** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 ** 
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