Reflecting notable decreases in manufacturing and wholesale inventories, the Commerce Department released a report on Friday showing a modest drop in U.S. business inventories in the month of March.
The report said business inventories edged down by 0.2 percent in March after falling by a revised 0.5 percent in February.
Economists had expected inventories to dip by 0.2 percent compared to the 0.4 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.
The modest decrease in business inventories came as manufacturing and wholesale inventories both fell by 0.8 percent, more than offsetting a 1.0 percent jump in retail inventories.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said business sales plunged by 5.2 percent in March following a 0.5 percent decrease in February.
Manufacturing and wholesale sales both tumbled by 5.2 percent, while retail sales plummeted by 5.3 percent.
With sales falling by much more than inventories, the total business inventories/sales ratio surged up to 1.45 in March from 1.38 in February.