Wholesale businesses reduced their stockpiles in September for the first time in nearly two years, while their sales rose. The trend could be a good sign for future factory output because manufacturers will have to produce more if demand keeps rising.
The Commerce Department said wholesale inventories dropped 0.1 percent, the first decline since December 2009.
The decline occurred largely because companies cut their stockpiles of nondurable goods, such as agricultural products, petroleum, and clothing. Inventories of durable goods, such as autos, furniture and machinery, rose.
The drop in inventories suggests wholesalers worried in September that future sales could slow. Europe's debt crisis intensified that month and the stock market plunged.
Sales by wholesale companies rose 0.5 percent, half the increase in August.