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Stockpiles unchanged for 2d month

WASHINGTON — US businesses­ left their stockpiles unchanged in March for a second straight month while their sales fell sharply.

The Commerce Department said Monday that business stockpiles showed no increase in March on a seasonally adjusted basis. Businesses had not increased their restocking in February, either.

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Sales fell 1.1 percent in March, offsetting a 1 percent gain in February.

A lack of inventory building could slow economic growth because it means that businesses are ordering fewer factory-made goods, especially when sales are falling.

However, a report on spending at retail businesses in April suggests consumers rebounded after a weak March. That could lead businesses to refill their shelves.

For March, manufacturers and retailers both increased their stockpiles by 0.2 percent, while wholesale businesses cut their inventories by 0.3 percent.

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