US wholesale stockpiles up 0.4 percent in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wholesale businesses stepped up their restocking of supplies in March, but their sales fell sharply.

The Commerce Department says stockpiles held by wholesalers rose 0.4 percent in March compared with February, when they had fallen 0.3 percent. Sales in March dropped 1.6 percent, the biggest setback since March 2009, when the country was in recession. Sales had risen 1.5 percent in February.

Inventory rebuilding can be a positive for economic growth because it means stronger production at the nation’s factories. The March increase left inventories at $503.1 billion, up 4.7 percent from a year ago and 30.7 percent above the recession low.

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