US stockpiles edged up tiny 0.1 percent in July, smallest gain in 4 months; sales up modestly

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U.S. businesses boosted their stockpiles by a tiny amount in July while sales also showed a slight gain.

The Commerce Department says business inventories increased 0.1 percent in July compared to June when stockpiles were up 0.7 percent. The July gain was the smallest since a 0.1 percent increase in March. Sales were also up 0.1 percent in July after a 0.3 percent rise in June. Sales had fallen for seven straight months through February and have been posting modest increases since that time.

Economists are forecasting that sales will keep rising in coming months and that will support economic growth in the second half of the year. However, they think a brief slowdown in restocking will dampen economic growth in the current July-September quarter.