US wholesale stockpiles post biggest drop in almost 3 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department says U.S. wholesale businesses reduced their stockpiles for the fifth straight month in February, while their sales dropped for the fourth straight month.

Inventories held by wholesale businesses slid 0.5 percent from January. It was the biggest drop since a 0.6 percent decrease in May 2013.

Sales fell 0.2 percent in February, the smallest drop since sales were flat in October.

The numbers reflect sluggish economic growth. U.S. businesses have struggled over the past year with spreading weakness overseas and a strong dollar, which makes American products less competitive on foreign markets.

The U.S. economy expanded at a lackluster 1.4 percent annual pace from October through December. Many economists expect growth to come in below 1 percent in the first three months of 2016.

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