Inventories at U.S. companies increased more than forecast in July, trailing a gain in sales that signals a pickup in factory orders.
Stockpiles rose 0.4 percent, the most in six months, after climbing a revised 0.1 percent in June, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey projected a 0.2 percent advance. Sales rose 0.6 percent in July.
Merchants had enough goods on hand to last 1.28 months at the current sales pace, the least since May 2012. Improved demand for goods including home furnishings and cars may encourage companies to replenish stockpiles.
The median forecast for business inventories was based on a Bloomberg survey of 44 economists. Estimates ranged from no change to a 0.5 percent gain. June was previously reported as unchanged.
Retailers’ stockpiles, the only part of today’s inventory report that hasn’t been previously released, rose 0.8 percent in July, the biggest gain since January. Sales advanced 0.4 percent.
Another Commerce Department report today showed retail purchases increased less than forecast in August. The 0.2 percent gain was the smallest in four months. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.5 percent advance.
Eight of 13 major categories showed increased sales last month, led by auto dealerships, electronics outlets and furniture stores. Purchases of building materials, clothing and sporting goods fell.
The value of unsold cars and auto parts rose 0.8 percent in July as demand eased, today’s inventory report showed.
Factory inventories rose 0.2 percent in July and wholesaler stockpiles increased 0.1 percent.