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Business Inventories Dip in July

September 15, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Stocks of unsold goods at the nation’s businesses dipped by 0.1 percent in July as sales increased by the largest amount in four months, a sign that companies remain wary of increasing inventories amid other indications of economic strength.

Businesses’ sales rose by 1.6 percent in July, the biggest increase since March, the Commerce Department said Monday. In June, inventories were flat as sales went up by a solid 1.3 percent. The figures suggest that companies _ wanting profits to improve and unsure of the vigor of the anticipated rebound in the second half of this year _ are keeping stocks lean.

At July’s sales pace, it would take businesses 1.37 months to exhaust their supplies. That inventory-to-sales ratio of 1.37 months in July was a record low and was down from 1.39 months in June.

In a second report from the department, the deficit in the broadest measure of trade held steady at a record $138.7 billion in the April to June quarter of this year.

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