U.S. wholesale inventories rise solidly in March

FILE PHOTO: Warehouse workers deal with inventory stacked up to the ceiling at an ABT Electronics Facility in Glenview, Illinois, U.S. December 4, 2018. REUTERS/Richa Naidu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. wholesale inventories rose sightly less than initially estimated in March as sales surged amid robust demand.

The Commerce Department said on Friday that wholesale inventories increased 1.3%, instead of 1.4% as estimated last month. Stocks at wholesalers gained 1.0% in February. The component of wholesale inventories that goes into the calculation of gross domestic product increased 1.3% in March.

Wholesale inventories shot up 4.5% in March from a year earlier. Sales at wholesalers jumped 4.6% after being unchanged in February.

Overall, business inventories were depleted in the first quarter amid a burst in domestic demand. The inventory drawdown subtracted 2.64 percentage points from GDP growth last quarter. Still, the economy grew at a robust 6.4% annualized rate in the March-January period after expanding at a 4.3% pace in the fourth quarter.

At March’s sales pace it would take wholesalers 1.22 months to clear shelves, down from 1.26 months in February.

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