The Commerce Department reports on wholesale stockpiles and sales in August. The report will be issued at 10 a.m. Eastern Thursday.
STOCKPILES AND SALES UP: Economists forecast that sales at the wholesale level rose 0.4 percent in August, according to a survey by FactSet. An increase in stockpiles that would reflect the strength in sales is also likely.
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SLOWER RESTOCKING: In July, U.S. wholesalers restocked their warehouses at the slowest pace in a year, boosting inventories by just 0.1 percent. Sales, meanwhile, jumped 0.7 percent.
The strong sales growth suggests companies will have to restock their shelves at a faster pace to keep up with demand. More restocking of goods lifts factory production and boosts economic growth.
Inventory growth is viewed as a barometer of business sentiment. When companies add goods to their stockpiles, it shows optimism about future demand. A cutback in inventories can be a sign that businesses are concerned about a potential economic slowdown and don't want to be stuck with unsold goods.
In the April-June quarter, faster inventory building by retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and other businesses accounted for 1.4 percentage points of the 4.6 percent annual growth rate.
That followed a big cutback in restocking in the first three months of the year, which subtracted nearly 1.2 percentage points from growth. The economy contracted 2.1 percent in the January-March quarter, the worst showing since the recession ended in mid-2009.