Wholesale inventories rise mildly, auto stocks surge


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Wholesale inventories rose modestly in April, the latest suggestion that restocking will not be much of a boost to economic growth in the second quarter.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday wholesale inventories increased 0.2 percent after a 0.3 percent rise in March. The rise in April was in line with expectations.

Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product changes. Excluding autos, inventories were flat. This component goes into the calculation of GDP.

Coming on the heels of data last week showing factory inventories rose 0.2 percent in April, it suggested that restocking probably would not contribute much to growth this quarter.

Inventories added more than half a percentage point to first-quarter GDP growth, which advanced at a 2.4 percent annual rate. Estimates for growth in the April-June period currently range below a 2.0 percent pace.

The value of petroleum stocks fell 0.1 percent in April after declining 3.3 percent in March. Automotive inventories were up 1.9 percent, the largest increase since December 2011, after rising 1.6 percent the prior month.

Sales at wholesalers rebounded 0.5 percent after falling 1.4 percent in March. Economists had expected sales to be flat.

At April’s sales pace it would take 1.21 months to clear shelves. The inventories/sales ratio was 1.22 months in March.

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