Herald Citzen
 LATEST NEWS
 Top Stories
 U.S.
  Severe Weather
  Bird Flu
 World
  Castro
  Mideast Crisis
  Iraq
 Business
 Personal Finance
 Technology
 Sports
  Sports Columns
  NASCAR
  Baseball
  College Hoops
  NBA
  NHL
  Tennis
  Golf
 Entertainment
 Health
 Science
 Politics
 Washington
 Offbeat
 Podcasts
 Blogs
 Weather
 Raw News
 NEWS SEARCH
 
 Archive Search
 SPECIAL SECTIONS
 Multimedia Gallery
 AP Video Network
 Today
 in History
 Corrections
May 8, 10:12 AM EDT

US wholesale stockpiles rose slightly in March


AP Photo
AP Photo/Mel Evans

Buy AP Photo Reprints

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. wholesalers expanded stockpiles modestly in March even though their sales fell for an eighth straight month.

Wholesale stockpiles edged up 0.1 percent following a 0.2 percent rise in February, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Sales at the wholesale level fell 0.2 percent after an even bigger 0.6 percent drop in February. Sales have fallen every month since August.

Economists are expecting sales to rebound in the coming months as the warmer weather lures shoppers back to shopping malls and auto dealerships. The pickup should fuel consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

Higher demand at the retail level would then spur increased restocking at all levels of business including wholesalers.

In March, auto stockpiles at the wholesale level were up 0.2 percent while furniture stockpiles increased 2.2 percent while inventories of computer equipment increased 1.7 percent. But stockpiles of lumber were down 0.8 percent and farm products were down 2.8 percent.

Total wholesale inventories increased to a seasonally adjust $574.5 billion in March, up 5.1 percent from a year ago.

Overall economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, barely grew in the January-March quarter. Many economists believe GDP will turn negative when the government issues a revision next month, reflecting a major widening in the trade deficit in March.

First quarter activity was hurt by an unusually severe winter, falling oil prices that triggered a big cutback in investments by energy companies and a rising dollar that has hurt U.S. export sales.

But economists remain hopeful that growth will rebound with warmer weather and continued strong gains in employment. They forecast overall GDP growth of between 2 percent and 2.5 percent in the current April-June period and then climb above 3 percent in the second half of this year.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.