Dow Jones

WASHINGTON — Inventories at U.S. wholesale companies grew again in August as companies continued to stockpile their wares.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that wholesale inventories gained 0.6% in August. That followed an unrevised 0.3% increase in July and was the 19th straight month that stocks had risen.

Wholesale sales rose 0.3% after an unrevised decline of 0.3% in July.

The data are not expected to have a big impact on financial markets. Instead, market watchers are hunkered down in anticipation of the release Friday of producer inflation and retail sales figures.

The August inventory-to-sales ratio — a measure of how long in months it would take a company to draw down its existing stocks of goods — held steady at 1.30 for the second consecutive month.

With the ratio stable, it appears firms are managing to maintain a decent match of their supplies with final consumer-level demand. In the second quarter, a fast buildup in business inventories at all levels — factory, wholesale, and retail — accounted for 1.73 percentage points of the economy’s blistering 5.6% annual growth rate.

Many economists expect inventories to be a slight drag or neutral in third-quarter data because of companies’ working down their stocks in the wake of slower retail sales.

The gain in August inventories was led by a 1.0% increase in so-called nondurables, mainly consumer disposable items. The gain was the largest since May and was led by increases in wholesale petroleum, farm products and paper.

Inventories of durable goods, items built to last three or more years, grew a smaller 0.4%, with increases in electrical goods and hardware offsetting drops in lumber and auto inventories. The inventory-to-sales ratio for cars dipped to 1.61, from 1.65 in July.

Wholesale sales were led by a 0.8% increase in durables, which more than offset a 0.3% decline in sales of nondurables.

Final inventory data for August, including retail, will be released Oct. 16. As previously reported, August factory inventories gained 0.3%.

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