Wholesale sales and inventories were up for November, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens a PDF) released today.
After increasing a revised 1.1% for October, wholesale sales added on a seasonally adjusted 1% to hit $440 billion for November.
While wholesale trade is used as an indicator of economic strength, investors pay close attention to durable goods as a potential sign of more sustainable confidence (or lack of confidence). For November, durable goods sales tapered off 0.4% month over month, with metals taking the largest toll at -2.6%. Still, November's durable goods sales remain 4% higher than November 2012.
Nondurable goods sales continued to rise, up 2.1% due primarily to a 7.7% increase in farm product sales.
Investors also keep a close eye on inventories. If factories are expanding their supplies, it could be a sign wholesalers expect demand to pick up in the near future. For November, overall inventories increased 0.5%, exactly matching analyst expectations.
To understand the rate at which goods are being made and sold, economists compute an inventories/sales ratio. Since sales increased slightly more than inventories from October to November, the inventories/sales ratio fell 0.01 points to 1.17.