The Commerce Department reported business inventories rose 0.1 % in December, less than expected. The data points to slower fourth-quarter economic growth.
Consumer spending data was also disappointing at the start of 2015. US retail sales fell 0.8% in January.
However, the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index, which tracks cash flow to predict what Americans will spend in the future, rose in January to its highest level since September 2010. The index hit 4.8 last month, compared to 4.2 in December.
The low oil prices that may be helping consumers’ budgets are hurting major oil companies. Total SA announced a $5.66 billion net loss during its last financial quarter and said it will lay off 2,000 employees in the next 2 years.