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US business stockpiles grow slightly

A worker stocked shelves at the J.C. Whitney distribution center in La Salle, Ill., in June.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

A worker stocked shelves at the J.C. Whitney distribution center in La Salle, Ill., in June.

WASHINGTON — US companies added to their stockpiles in May. But their sales fell for a second straight month, adding to worries that the economy has slowed.

Business stockpiles grew 0.3 percent in May from April, matching April’s increase, the Commerce Department said Monday. Business sales fell 0.1 percent in May, matching April’s decline.

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Total stockpiles rose to $1.58 trillion in May. That’s nearly 20 percent higher than the low point in September 2009, shortly after the recession ended.

When businesses step up restocking, they order more goods. That generally leads to increased factory production and higher economic growth. But stockpile growth largely depends on the spending habits of US consumers, and Americans reduced their spending at retail businesses in June for the third straight month.

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