Forget Retail Sales. Inventories Now Worth a Look?

Photograph by Ty Wright/Bloomberg

Inventory at a warehouse in Avon, Ohio.

Most of the talk around economic indicators today surrounds the better-than-expected and broader-than expected gain in U.S. retail sales.

Don’t miss out on another stat today with a telling story.

Inventories rose at a slower pace in August, one indicator that sales are starting to wear down Corporate America’s stockpiles and that manufacturing might get a year-end boost.

Bloomberg’s Michelle Jamrisko and Shobhana Chandra report that Commerce Department data showed a 0.6 percent increase in goods on hand. That follows a 0.8 percent gain in July.

Getting manufacturing going — and keeping it going — is key. The sector had been a linchpin of the three-year economic expansion. Manufacturing has been cooling lately as demand slowed. If the inventory figures keep going the right direction, manufacturing could be next.

And in case you missed it: Retail sales gained 1.1 percent in September. That followed a revised 1.2 percent increase in August that was the biggest since October 2010 and larger than previously reported, according to the Commerce Department.

Twelve of 13 major categories showed gains last month, led by auto dealers, service stations and electronics stores.

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