WASHINGTON — US wholesalers increased their stockpiles in August and their sales rose for the first time in four months. The gains could provide a boost to the still weak economy.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that wholesale stockpiles grew 0.5 percent in August after a 0.6 percent increase in July.
Sales at the wholesale level jumped 0.9 percent in August, ending three months of declines. The sales increase was the biggest one-month gain since February.
Total wholesale inventories stood at $487.5 billion. That’s 26.9 percent higher than the post-recession low hit in September 2009.
It would take about five weeks to exhaust the level of stockpiles at the August sales pace. Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics, said the level remains fairly lean, even after the modest increase in inventories over the summer when sales slipped.
Companies typically boost their stockpiles when they anticipate sales will rise in coming months. Faster restocking helps drive economic growth. When businesses order more goods, it generally leads to more factory production.
Growth has slowed this year, in part because high unemployment and low pay increases have kept US consumers from spending more freely.
Weaker global growth has also dampened demand for US exports.
Many economists believe the US economy grew over the summer at a 2 percent annual rate. That would be only a slight improvement from the tepid 1.3 percent annual growth rate in the April-June quarter.