Businesses inventories, or products waiting to be sold, declined by 0.1% in March, the government said Tuesday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast no change. Shrinking inventories are a negative sign and depress gross domestic product. But inventory growth is still up 6.5% over the past year. The government said sales fell 1.1% in the month. The ratio of inventories to sales moved up a tick to 1.39. That’s how many months it would take to sell all the inventory on hand. While the ratio is still fairly low, it’s been on a recent uptrend. That can happen when demand slows, potentially leaving companies stuck with unwanted goods that they have to discount to sell.

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