ECONOMY

US businesses increased stockpiles slightly in March

U.S. businesses increased their stockpiles slightly in March, while their sales were flat.

The Commerce Department says business inventories rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in March, matching February's gain. And sales were unchanged in March after inching up 0.2 percent in February.

An effort by businesses to rebuild their stockpiles had added a full percentage point to economic growth in the October-December quarter, a period when the economy grew by a tepid 2.1 percent as measured by the gross domestic product.

But growth slowed in the January-March quarter, in part analysts say because inventories subtracted from overall economic activity. Annual GDP growth was just 0.7 percent in the first quarter.