American wholesale inventories rose for two months in a row while sales remained weak, the Commerce Department said Thursday.
Inventories at the wholesale level went up 0.3 percent in February from the prior month to 574 billion U.S. dollars, while sales at the wholesale level declined 0.2 percent to 444.2 billion U.S. dollars. That leaves the stock-to-sales ratio at 1.29.
Sales of durable goods, such as autos and machinery, dropped 2. 4 percent, while sales of nondurable goods, including petroleum and groceries, went up 1.9 percent.
The mismatch between the sales and inventories trend signals a weakening demand on retailing and slowing production on the manufacturing side, which are negative signals for broader economy and future employment growth.
In view of the recent weak economic indicators, economists widely held the economic activities in the first quarter of this year would moderate from the previous quarter. But they believed the weak growth in the first quarter was mainly attributed to temporary factors including severe cold weather, and growth should pick up in the coming quarters.