U.S. companies increased their restocking in January from December, the government said Wednesday, an encouraging signal that they expect consumers will spend more this year and help the economy grow faster.
According to the Commerce Department, business stockpiles grew 1 percent in January, up from 0.3 percent growth in December. Total business sales fell 0.3 percent in January after a slight 0.1 percent rise in December.
Stagnant growth in restocking was a key reason the economy barely grew from October through December. Since then, job growth has accelerated and wages have steadily risen. The combination could lead to greater consumer demand, prompting more business restocking and economic growth.
Economists say that faster restocking in the current quarter should help lift growth to about 2 percent in the January to March period.