July 10, 2015 / 2:06 PM / 4 years ago

U.S. wholesale inventories rise more than expected

The warehouse style of shopping is shown inside a Costco store in Carlsbad, California February 28, 2012. REUTERS/ Mike Blake

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. wholesale inventories rose at their fastest pace in six months in May, reinforcing the view that economic growth should rebound in the second quarter after a weak first three months of the year.

The Commerce Department said on Friday wholesale inventories increased 0.8 percent from a month earlier, more than the 0.3 percent gain forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

The biggest gains were seen in petroleum products, computer equipment and drugs.

Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product changes. The component that goes into the calculation of GDP - wholesale stocks excluding autos - rose 0.8 percent, suggesting inventories will provide a boost to growth in the second quarter.

The economy contracted at a 0.2 percent annual pace in the first quarter and growth got off to a slow start in the second quarter, in part because of the lingering effects of a strong dollar and spending cuts in the energy sector.

But data since then, including in job growth, suggest the economy is picking up steam.

Sales at wholesalers rose 0.3 percent in May, a slowdown from their big surge in April and less than the 0.6 percent increase expected by economists. Petroleum sales increased 4.3 percent in May, down from a revised 5.9 percent rise the prior month.

At May’s sales pace it would take 1.29 months to clear shelves, the same as in April.

Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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