[March 12, 2014]WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. wholesale
inventories rose more than expected in January, as companies built
up stocks of autos and machinery, though sales posted their largest
decline in nearly five years.
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday wholesale inventories rose
0.6 percent to $521.2 billion after a revised 0.4 percent gain in
Economists polled by Reuters expected stocks of unsold goods at
wholesalers to rise 0.4 percent in January.
Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product, and
strength in that category added 0.14 percentage point to the
economy's annual growth pace in the fourth quarter.
Excluding autos, wholesale inventories rose 0.4 percent in January.
This component goes into the calculation of GDP.
Economists believe the current inventory level is unsustainable and
expect the build-up in unsold stocks to eventually reverse.
The value of automotive stocks rose 2.2 percent in the first month
of the year, while machinery stocks were up 1.3 percent.
Sales at wholesalers fell 1.9 percent in January, their biggest drop
since March 2009, compared to a revised 0.1 percent increase the
prior month. Economists had forecast sales to edge up 0.2 percent.