U.S. wholesale inventories rose slightly in July, the government reported Wednesday, suggesting a slower pace of inventory accumulation at the beginning of the third quarter that could prompt economists to lower their growth estimates.
The Commerce Department said wholesale inventories rose 0.1 percent, the smallest increase since July 2013, following a 0.2 percent gain in June. Economists expected a July increase of 0.5 percent.
Wholesale inventories were limited in July by declines in stocks of furniture, professional equipment, petroleum, paper, and metals. Auto inventories increased 1 percent in July after declining 0.2 percent in June.
Sales at wholesalers rose 0.7 percent in July after climbing 0.4 percent the previous month.
Inventories are a key component of changes in gross domestic product (GDP). The component that goes into the calculation of GDPâ€”wholesale inventories excluding autosâ€”was flat in July.
Inventories added 1.4 percentage points to GDP growth in the second quarter. But a report last week showed inventories of manufactured goods at factories rose only 0.1 percent in July, which led some economist to cut their third-quarter growth forecasts.