U.S. business inventories fell for the 11th straight month in December while sales were unchanged, the government said on Thursday in a further indication American firms were clearing shelves of stock. 

Stocks at U.S. businesses fell 0.4 percent in December after a revised 1.2 percent drop the previous month, the Commerce Department said. The number was close to analyst expectations of a 0.5 percent fall. 

Total business sales were unchanged on the month after posting a revised 1.6 percent drop in November. Sales at manufacturers rose 0.6 percent. 

The stock-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.39 months, for the third month in a row. 

Inventories at manufacturers dropped 0.6 percent while stocks at car dealers showed a modest rise of 0.1 percent. Retailers inventories fell 0.1 percent.