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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Business inventories rose in October as retailers restocked their shelves at the fastest pace since July, while sales declined.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday inventories increased 0.4 percent to $1.619 trillion, after rising 0.7 percent in September.
That was smack in line with expectations in a Reuters poll.
October's inventories were lifted by a 0.9 percent rise in stocks at auto dealers.
Inventories are a key driver to changes in gross domestic product changes. Retail inventories, excluding autos - which go into the calculation of gross domestic product - rose 0.4 percent in October.
The government currently estimates the economy expanded at a 2.7 percent rate in the third quarter. Before Thursday's data, economists were expecting growth to slow to a 1.2 percent rate in the fourth quarter, according to a Reuters poll.
Business sales slipped 0.4 percent in October. At October's sales pace, it would take 1.29 months for businesses to clear shelves, down from 1.28 months in September.
Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Neil Stempleman