Worse than expected, and only one number subject to revision, with the govt deficit at only 3% of GDP this kind of slowdown can turn pro cyclical:
Rising inventories, tied in part to weather-related shipping snags, are a rising threat to economic growth. Wholesale inventories rose 0.6 percent in January against a 1.9 percent plunge in sales, a heavy mismatch that drives the sector’s stock-to-sales ratio up 2 notches to 1.20 which is one of the heaviest readings of the recovery.
Details show large builds in autos, metals, and machinery, three groups where January sales were weak. Nondurable goods show especially large builds against especially soft sales including paper, drugs and petroleum.
Data on factory inventories, which were released last week with the factory orders report, showed an unwanted build and a dip in sales that pushed the stock-to-sales ratio near its heaviest level of the whole recovery. Inventories in the retail sector, with December the latest available report, are the heaviest of the recovery and are building at a time when sales are slowing — not accelerating. Retail data for January will be posted with the business inventories report on Thursday.
Market Consensus before announcement
Wholesale inventories showed a 0.3 percent build in December and were well matched by a 0.5 percent rise in wholesale sales that left the stock-to-sales ratio for the wholesale sector unchanged at 1.17. This ratio has held between 1.18 and 1.17 since May.