Business Inventories Rise in April, But Sales Weaken

Updated
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Leah Nash/Bloomberg via Getty Images

By Lucia Mutikan

WASHINGTON -- U.S. business inventories rose in April, but with goods taking longer to sell, businesses could slow their pace of stock accumulation to prevent an unwanted piling up of merchandise.

The Commerce Department said Thursday inventories increased 0.3 percent after edging down 0.1 percent in March. The rise was in line with forecasts.

Inventories are a key component of changes in the nation's gross domestic product. Retail inventories, excluding autos rebounded 0.4 percent. That followed a 0.7 percent fall in March.

Inventories added more than half a percentage point to first-quarter GDP growth, which advanced at a 2.4 percent annual rate. Estimates for growth in the April-June period currently range below a 2.0 percent pace.

Business sales fell 0.1 percent in April after declining 1.2 percent the prior month. At April's weak sales pace, it would take 1.31 months for businesses to clear shelves.

That was the highest inventories to sales ratio since October 2009 and was up from 1.30 months in March.

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Originally published