June 9, 2017 / 2:05 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. wholesale inventories post biggest drop in more than a year

Shelves are stacked with merchandise at a Wal-Mart Stores Inc company distribution center in Bentonville, Arkansas June 6, 2013.Rick Wilking

WASHINGTON, June 9 (Reuters) - - U.S. wholesale inventories fell more steeply in April than the government had previously estimated, posting their biggest drop in more than a year as sales also fell sharply.

The Commerce Department said on Friday that wholesale inventories fell 0.5 percent in April after increasing 0.1 percent in March. The department reported last month that wholesale inventories slipped 0.3 percent in April.

Automotive inventories fell 1.4 percent while petroleum inventories dropped 5.0 percent, their biggest fall since December 2015. Paper inventories fell 1.8 percent in the category's biggest drop since January 2013.

Wholesale stocks of electrical goods also slipped 0.1 percent while machinery inventories were flat.

Sales at wholesalers fell 0.4 percent in April after falling 0.2 percent in March. Sales of electrical goods rose 0.7 percent while those of machinery fell 0.8 percent. Auto sales were up 1.3 percent.

At April's sales pace it would take wholesalers 1.28 months to clear shelves, unchanged from March.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Paul Simao

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