WASHINGTON – U.S. businesses in March posted the biggest increases in inventories and sales since June, good news for economic growth.
The Commerce Department says business inventories rose 0.4 percent from February. Sales rose 0.3 percent.
The March increases ended months of falling sales and inventories.
Falling inventories have been a big drag on the U.S. economy. They trimmed economic growth by 0.3 percentage point from January through March, reducing the first-quarter increase to a lackluster 0.5 percent annual rate. Inventories have pulled economic growth lower for three straight quarters. So March's rising inventories could provide a boost to second-quarter growth, expected to come in at around 2 percent.
Manufacturers and wholesalers reported higher sales and bigger inventories in March. Retailers increased inventories by 1 percent but saw sales slip 0.3 percent.