U.S. wholesale companies cut back their stockpiles in June as sales fell by the most in three years. The declines in sales and inventories could signal slower growth in the coming months.

The Commerce Department says wholesale inventories dropped 0.2 percent in June, the largest drop in nine months. Sales at the wholesale level fell 1.4 percent, the sharpest decline since March 2009.

Even though stockpiles declined, the steeper drop in sales means it would take wholesalers longer to clear out their inventories. That suggests they may order fewer goods to keep their stockpiles from getting any larger. That could lower factory production and slow growth.

Sales of industrial machinery fell by the most in nearly three years, while sales of electronic goods, petroleum, and metals also fell.