US wholesale inventories increase solidly in February

Finance news

U.S. wholesale inventories increased a bit less than initially estimated in February, but still suggested that inventory investment would contribute to economic growth in the first quarter after being a drag on output in the prior period.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that wholesale inventories rose 1.0 percent instead of the 1.1 percent jump it reported last month. That was the biggest increase since October 2013. Stocks at wholesalers increased 0.9 percent in January.

The component of wholesale inventories that goes into the calculation of gross domestic product — wholesale stocks excluding autos — surged 1.1 percent in February.

Inventory investment subtracted 0.53 percentage point from fourth-quarter GDP growth. The economy grew at a 2.9 percent annualized pace in the October-November period. A report last week showed manufacturer inventories increased 0.3 percent in February after rising 0.4 percent in January.

Wholesale auto inventories dipped 0.1 percent in February, matching January’s fall. There were increases in inventories of furniture, lumber and computer equipment.

Sales at wholesalers rebounded 1.0 percent in February after slumping 1.5 percent in January. Sales of motor vehicles jumped 1.4 percent in February after gaining 0.3 percent in the prior month.

At February’s sales pace it would take wholesalers 1.26 months to clear shelves, unchanged from January.

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