U.S. wholesale inventories rise more than expected

Friday, 25 Oct 2013 | 10:00 AM ET

WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) - U.S. wholesale inventories rose more than expected in August, suggesting that restocking was less of a drag on economic growth on the eve of a fiscal battle in Washington than analysts had thought.

The Commerce Department said on Friday wholesale inventories rose 0.5 percent in August, the biggest increase since January. The government also said inventories rose more than initially estimated in July.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.5 percent annual pace in the April-June period, and most analysts expect a significant slowdown in the third quarter when a government shutdown left hundreds of thousands of people out of work for weeks.

Economists expect the pace of inventory accumulation to slow a bit in the July-September quarter after consumer spending moderated in the previous quarter.

Wholesale inventories in August were boosted by increases in stocks of professional equipment and autos.

Sales at wholesalers increased 0.6 percent, beating economists' expectations.

At August's sales pace it would take 1.17 months to clear shelves. The inventories/sales ratio was unchanged from July.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci)