However, the trade deficit in December was not as big as the government had assumed in its initial GDP estimate and core retail sales in November and December were higher than previously estimated.
Taken together, that suggests output is likely to be revised higher when the government publishes its second growth estimate later this month.
The slower pace of stock accumulation in the fourth quarter bodes well for first-quarter GDP prospects. In December, business sales rose 0.3 percent after increasing 0.9 percent the prior month.
At December's sales pace, it would take 1.27 months for businesses to clear shelves, down from 1.28 months in November.
The inventory to sales ratio was the lowest since May last year.