US business inventories barely rise as retail stocks revised lower

A forklift operator loads a semi-trailer with pallets of seasoning at the Badia Spices factory in Doral, Florida.
Mark Elias | Bloomberg | Getty Images

U.S. business inventories barely rose in September as stocks of goods at retailers were not as large as previously thought, which could have implications for the third-quarter economic growth estimate.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday business inventories edged up 0.1 percent after rising 0.2 percent in August.

Economists had forecast inventories, which are a key component of gross domestic product, rising 0.2 percent in September.

Retail inventories increased 0.2 percent in September, instead of rising 0.3 percent as reported in an advance report published last month. They increased 0.6 percent in August.

Retail inventories excluding autos, which go into the calculation of GDP, were unchanged in September instead of the 0.1 percent gain reported last month. That followed a 0.3 percent increase in August

A rebound in inventory investment contributed six-tenths of a percentage point to the economy's 2.9 percent annualized growth rate in the third quarter. Inventories had weighed on GDP growth since the second quarter of 2015.

In September, business sales rose 0.7 percent after increasing 0.3 percent in August. At September's sales pace, it would take 1.38 months for businesses to clear shelves, down from 1.39 months in August.