WASHINGTON – U.S. wholesalers cut their stockpiles slightly in December while their sales were unchanged, suggesting businesses were cautious at the end of a weak quarter.
The Commerce Department says wholesale business stockpiles dipped 0.1 percent in December from November, after a 0.4 percent rise the previous month. Inventories of furniture and automotive goods fell by the most in more than three years.
Farm product stockpiles also dropped sharply, likely reflecting the impact of this summer's drought in the Midwest.
Less restocking reduces factory production, which slows economic growth. A big decline in restocking was a major reason the department estimated last week that the economy shrank in the October-December quarter.
Wholesale inventories fell to $497.7 billion, roughly 29 percent above the post-recession low hit in September 2009.