US wholesale inventories fall for eighth month

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U.S. wholesale inventories shrank for the eighth month in a row in April to $405.4 billion, their lowest since September 2007, government data showed on Tuesday.

The 1.4 percent drop in inventories was greater than the 1.1 percent decline analysts polled by Reuters had expected, as wholesalers primarily shed stocks of metals and motor vehicles and car parts. The Commerce Department also said that March's fall was revised to 1.8 percent from the 1.6 percent drop reported last month.

Sales at merchant wholesalers fell 0.4 percent in April to $309.35 billion, their lowest since November 2005, after tumbling 2.4 percent the previous month. Analysts had forecast a 0.5 percent decline.

The inventory-to-sales ratio, a measure of how long it would take to deplete current stocks, fell to 1.31 months' worth from 1.32 months. In April 2008 that rate was 1.12 months.

Inventories of durable goods, items meant to last, were down 2.2 percent after falling 2.6 percent the month before, the Commerce Department said. They also dropped 5.9 percent from the year before.

Metals fell 6.8 percent in April from March, and 13.5 percent from a year earlier. Automotive related products such as cars were down 4.5 percent on the month and 14.3 percent on the year.

Nondurable inventories were unchanged in April, with petroleum stocks falling 1.3 percent on the month. Petroleum inventories also fell 9 percent on the year, despite rising 7.5 percent in March.

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