March 9, 2016 / 5:17 PM / a year ago

Atlanta Fed holds U.S. first quarter GDP view at 2.2 percent

An assembly worker works on 2015 Ford Mustang vehicles on the production line at the Ford Motor Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, August 20, 2015.Rebecca Cook

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. economy is on track to grow 2.2 percent in the first quarter in the wake of a surprise 0.3 percent increase in wholesale inventories in January, the Atlanta Federal Reserve's GDPNow forecast model showed on Wednesday.

That pace was unchanged from the regional Fed's prior estimate last Friday, the Atlanta Fed said on its website.

The January inventory rise resulted from a sharp 1.3 percent drop in sales among wholesalers. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast inventories falling 0.2 percent in January.

This led the Atlanta Fed's model to estimate more of a drag from inventory on the gross domestic product to 0.33 percentage point from 0.28 point.

The heavier drag from inventory was offset by a revised outlook on net exports, which would subtract 0.31 percentage point from first-quarter GDP from an earlier estimate of 0.35 point, the Atlanta Fed said.

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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