Wholesale inventories rise in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — Stockpiles held by U.S. wholesale companies rose in April at the fastest pace in 10 months, while sales climbed by the largest amount in a year.

Wholesale inventories increased 0.6 percent in April after a much smaller 0.2 percent increase in March, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. It was the biggest inventory gain since a 0.7 percent rise last June.

Sales at the wholesale level rose 1 percent following a 0.6 percent increase in March. The sales advance was the biggest since a 1.4 percent increase in April 2015.

A slowdown in restocking inventories has depressed economic growth, but economists believe the inventory correction will soon end. The big rise in April inventories could be a sign that process has started.

In the January-March quarter, the reduction in stockpiling trimmed 0.2 percentage point from growth after trimming growth by an even larger 0.7 percentage point in the October-December quarter.

The economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a lackluster 0.8 percent rate in the first quarter. But economists believe stronger consumer spending will help boost growth to around 2 percent in the current April-June quarter.

Stockpiles that increased in April included chemicals, lumber and machinery. Those gains helped to offset declines in stockpiles of automobiles and furniture.

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