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US business inventories gain in September, sales flat

An employee operates a forklift at the distribution center of the Oregon Freeze Dry facility in Tangent, Oregon.
Leah Nash | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An employee operates a forklift at the distribution center of the Oregon Freeze Dry facility in Tangent, Oregon.

U.S. businesses added to their stockpiles at a faster rate in September, but sales remained weak.

The Commerce Department says business inventories increased 0.3 percent in September following a tiny 0.1 percent rise in August, which was the weakest showing in more than a year. Sales were flat after having fallen 0.5 percent in August.

The weakness in sales may have made businesses more cautious about restocking their shelves until they see more evidence of rising demand. When companies add goods to their stockpiles, it typically reflects optimism about future demand. Reductions in inventory restocking can be a sign of uneasiness about future sales. A rise in inventories at a time of falling sales can be a sign of involuntary inventory building.