U.S. December wholesale inventories revised higher

United Auto Workers union member Carrie Attwood uses an ergonomic-arm to install a front seat in a Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle at General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in Hamtramck
FILE PHOTO: United Auto Workers union member Carrie Attwood uses an ergonomic-arm to install a front seat in a Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle at General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in Hamtramck, Michigan July 27, 2011. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

February 10, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. wholesale inventories increased more than initially thought in December, even as sales accelerated, government data showed on Wednesday.

The Commerce Department said wholesale inventories rose 0.3% in December instead of gaining 0.1% as reported last month. Stock at wholesalers was unchanged in November. The component of wholesale inventories that goes into the calculation of gross domestic product shot up 0.7% in December.

Inventories fell 1.6% in December from a year earlier.

The economy grew at a 4.0% annualized rate in the fourth quarter after a historic 33.4% growth pace in the third quarter. Inventories contributed to GDP growth for two straight quarters.

Businesses are replenishing inventories after they were drawn down early in the pandemic. That has helped to underpin manufacturing, offsetting slowing consumer spending.

Wholesale stocks of motor vehicles and parts tumbled 3.3%. Sales at wholesalers surged 1.2% in December after rising 0.3% in November. At December’s sales pace it would take wholesalers 1.29 months to clear shelves, down from 1.31 in November.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)