The Commerce Dept. said today that inventories at U.S. businesses fell for the 13th straight month in February, sending mixed signals about the economy.

The government said business inventories in February posted a 0.1% decline compared to a downwardly revised 0.1% drop the previous month.

A sharp decline in manufacturers' sales saw total business sales down 0.9%, the largest fall since November. That number rose 0.9% the previous month. Manufacturing sales fell 2.8%, the largest drop since September, while sales at retailers rose a modest 0.2%.

Manufacturerss inventories were down 0.4% and retail inventories rose 0.7%. Motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts rose 2.6% after an increase of 3.0% the previous month.