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U.S. wholesale inventories rose in May, reinforcing the view that economic growth should surge in the second quarter following a weak first three months of the year.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday wholesale inventories increased 0.5 percent from a month earlier. The rise was just below economists' expectations for a 0.6 percent gain.
The gains were driven by increases in inventories of metals, autos, machinery and lumber.
Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product changes. The component that goes into the calculation of GDP - wholesale stocks excluding autos - increased 0.3 percent in May.
A sharp slowdown in the pace of restocking by businesses helped to sink economic growth in the first quarter, but a swing in inventories is expected in the April-June period.
The economy contracted at a 2.9 percent annual pace in the January-March period, with inventories playing a big role in the decline. Many analysts forecast growth in the second quarter to rebound to around a 3 percent pace.
Sales at wholesalers increased 0.7 percent in May. At May's sales pace it would take 1.18 months to clear shelves, which was unchanged from April.