U.S. wholesale inventories rose 0.8 percent in January, while sales leapt 2.7 percent, the
largest increase in nearly four years, the Commerce Department said.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected wholesale inventories to increase only 0.4 percent, after a 1.1 percent unrevised gain in December. Their value in January was $414.8 billion and sales stood at $387.7 billion.
The sales increase came after a 0.5 percent drop in December, revised from a previously reported 0.7 percent decline. It was the biggest rise since a 3.3 percent increase in March 2004.
Sales of durable goods were especially strong, increasing 2.4 percent from December, and 5.1 percent from January 2007, the department said. Despite the increase in durable goods
sales, inventories rose 0.6 percent.
Farm products, meanwhile, reflected steadily increasing food prices, jumping 16.1 percent over the month and increasing 73.3 percent from a year before.
The inventory to sales ratio, or how long it would take to sell stocks at the current pace, fell to 1.07 months' worth in January, matching the record low set in November.