WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. businesses boosted their stockpiles by a slight amount in September while their sales increased by the most in three months.
The Commerce Department says business inventories edged up 0.1 percent in September, slower than the 0.2 percent gain seen in August. Sales were up a solid 0.7 percent, double the 0.3 percent rise in August. It was the best showing since a 1 percent gain in June.
The gain in sales was evidence that the economy is gaining strength after a sluggish period at the beginning of the year.
Overall economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, increased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the July-September quarter, double the 1.4 percent GDP gain in the second quarter.
Economists expect solid growth this quarter.
A separate report Tuesday showed that retail sales increased 0.8 percent in October following an upwardly revised 1 percent gain in September. Both increases suggested that economic growth could accelerate more in the final three months of the year.
The inventory report showed that stockpiles held by retailers rose 0.2 percent in September while inventories at the wholesale level edged up 0.1 percent and stockpiles held by manufacturers were unchanged.
The gain in business sales in September was led by the 1 percent increase in retail sales followed by an increase of 0.8 percent in sales at the manufacturing level. Sales by wholesalers edged up a modest 0.2 percent.