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U.S. wholesale inventories rose slightly less than initially thought in July as motor vehicle stocks fell further, but that probably will not change expectations that inventory investment will provide a boost to economic growth in the third quarter.
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday wholesale inventories increased 0.6 percent instead of gaining 0.7 percent as reported last month. Stocks at wholesalers edged up 0.1 percent in June.
They increased 5.0 percent year-on-year in July. The component of wholesale inventories that goes into the calculation of gross domestic product growth surged 0.8 percent in July.
There was an outright inventory liquidation in the second quarter. Inventories subtracted nearly a full percentage point from GDP in the April-June quarter. The economy grew at a 4.2 percent annualized rate in the second quarter, the fastest in nearly four years and almost double the 2.2 percent pace set in the January-March period.
Given strong domestic demand, businesses are likely to boost stocks of goods, which should underpin production at factories. Economists expect inventory accumulation to significantly contribute to GDP growth in the third quarter.
In July, wholesale auto inventories dropped 1.1 percent after declining 1.2 percent in June. Machinery inventories increased 1.2 percent after a similar gain in June. Stocks of farm products rebounded 1.4 percent after plunging 5.5 percent in June. Petroleum inventories fell 1.7 percent after declining 2.1 percent in June.
Sales at wholesalers were unchanged in July after dipping 0.2 percent in June. There were declines in sales of motor vehicles, furniture, professional equipment and computer equipment.
At July's sales pace it would take wholesalers 1.26 months to clear shelves, up from 1.25 in June.