Wholesale Inventories, Sales Up Strongly


U.S. wholesale sales climbed at the sharpest rate in seven months during October and inventories kept rising strongly, according to a government report on Thursday that suggested optimism about a healthy holiday shopping season.

The Commerce Department said wholesale sales rose 2.2% to a seasonally adjusted $362.1 billion -- far ahead of Wall Street expectations - following a 0.5% September gain.

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Inventories were up 1.9% in October to $427.1 billion after a 2.1% rise.

Economists surveyed by Reuters had predicted wholesale sales would rise modestly by 0.6% and that inventories would increase 0.9%.

The stronger -than-expected October inventory and sales data may imply that wholesalers were preparing for a strong sales season in the critical Thanksgiving-through-Christmas period when retail business typically picks up.

The inventory-to-sales ratio that measure how long it would take to deplete stocks at the current sales pace was unchanged at 1.18 months' worth in October.

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