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U.S. Business Inventories Increase 0.5% In February, Matching Estimates

Business inventories in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of February, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Thursday.

The Commerce Department said business inventories climbed by 0.5 percent in February after rising by an upwardly revised 0.4 percent in January.

Economists had expected business inventories to increase by 0.5 percent compared to the 0.3 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.

The increase in business inventories came as manufacturing and wholesale inventories rose by 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively, while retail inventories came in unchanged.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said business sales tumbled by 1.9 percent in February after spiking by 4.5 percent in January.

Retail sales plummeted by 2.8 percent, manufacturing sales plunged by 2.0 percent and wholesale sales fell by 0.8 percent.

With inventories rising and sales slumping, the total business inventories/sales ratio climbed to 1.30 in February from 1.27 in January.

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Target Recalls Cat & Jack Baby Rompers

Retail major Target Corp. is recalling about 44,350 units of Cat & Jack Baby Heart Ears Rompers, citing choking risks to children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a statement.

The recall involves rompers sold in various sizes from newborn to 24 months. They are in gray knit fabric with red trim on the wrists, ankles and pockets, red hearts on the knees and the hood, red and white-striped lining inside the hood and snaps on the legs.

The rompers were manufactured in Vietnam, and sold at Target stores across the United States and online at from November 2020 through February 2021 for about $13.

According to the agency, the heart-shaped graphics located on the knees of the romper can peel off or detach, posing a choking hazard to children.

The recall was initiated after the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company received 40 reports of the hearts peeling or detaching, including one report of a child choking.

Consumers are urged to return the recalled item to any Target Store for a full refund. Those purchased the romper online can contact Target for a prepaid return label to return the romper.

In similar incidents, Battat this week recalled about 61,000 units of infant teethers sold exclusively at Target for choking hazard.

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L'Oreal shares fall, performance at consumer products arm underwhelm some analysts

Shares in French cosmetics group L'Oreal fell on Friday, as some analysts expressed disappointment at figures from the company's consumer products division,, despite overall strong group results.

L'Oreal shares were down by 1.5% in early session trading, the worst performing stock on Paris' SBF-120 index.

L'Oreal said sales reached 7.6 billion euros ($9.10 billion)in the three months to March, up 10.2% on a like-for-like basis stripping out the effects of acquisitions and currency moves.

L'Oreal's consumer products division, which also sells brands including Maybelline, lagged other units, due to its high exposure to make-up, where demand is sluggish compared with other categories like skincare.

"Not to like are the inter-related challenges of ongoing weak Consumer & Western Europe, the only division and zone that remain in negative like-for-like territory. But an encouraging start overall," wrote investment bank Jefferies.