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Business Inventories Jump

By John S. McClenahen As demand increases in the U.S. economy, so, apparently, do inventories. Business inventories, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were at $1.177 trillion at the end of September, the U.S. Commerce Department estimated on Nov. 17. That level was 0.3% higher than in August of this year and 1.6% higher than the end-of-the-month figure for September 2002. Economists generally had expected no change between the August and September inventory numbers. Maury Harris, chief U.S. economist at UBS Investment Research, New York, notes that the Commerce Department plugged a 0.2% drop in September inventories into its initial calculation of third-quarter GDP growth. Harris now expects Commerce to revise its initial 7.2% annual rate figure to about 8%.

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