Official name: Manufacturing and Trade Inventories and Sales
What exactly? The sum of inventories at each of the three stages of production: manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing. This report also includes business sales (the sum of sales at each of the three stages of production).
Source: Census Bureau
Released when? Around the 13th of the month at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Data for two months prior.
Market importance: Little. Rarely moves markets. It is used to help predict the inventory portion of gross domestic product -- but most of the components of this report are already known by the time it is released.
Other notes: (a) Inventories at the retail level are the only unknown before this report is released. Retail sales have already been released. So have inventories and sales at the wholesale level (in the wholesale trade report) and at the manufacturing level (in the factory orders report). (b) The headline number is the percent change in business inventories from the prior month, but we also graph the year-on-year change alongside the year-on-year change in business sales because it provides clues about the path of production in the future.