US wholesale inventories crawl higher, miss estimates

A worker drives a Kalmar reachstacker truck loaded with an AP Moeller-Maersk A/S shipping container.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

U.S. wholesale inventories rose less than expected in July, suggesting restocking will probably not contribute much to economic growth in the third quarter.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday wholesale inventories edged up 0.1 percent after falling 0.2 percent in June.

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Economists polled by Reuters had expected stocks at wholesalers to rise 0.3 percent.

Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product changes. Excluding autos, wholesale inventories ticked up 0.1 percent. This component goes into the calculation of gross domestic product.

The government last month reported that GDP expanded at a 2.5 percent annual pace in the second quarter, with inventories adding 0.59 percentage point.

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 July were held back by a 1.2 percent drop in professional equipment stocks.

It was the largest decline since August last year and partially offset gains in automobile, petroleum, furniture, machinery, electrical and apparel stocks.

Sales at wholesalers nudged up 0.1 percent after rising 0.4 percent in June. Economists had expected sales to rise 0.4 percent in July.

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