WASHINGTON Jan 10 U.S. wholesale inventories in
November rose slightly more than previously reported, posting
their largest gain in two years and suggesting inventory
investment would again support economic growth in the fourth
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday wholesale
inventories rose 1.0 percent after slipping 0.1 percent in
October. That was the largest increase since November 2014. The
department reported last month that wholesale inventories rose
0.9 percent in November.
The component of wholesale inventories that goes into the
calculation of gross domestic product - wholesale stocks
excluding autos - increased 0.7 percent in November.
Inventory investment contributed half a percentage point to
the economy's 3.5 percent annualized growth rate in the third
quarter. Inventories had weighed on GDP growth since the second
quarter of 2015.
A report last week showed stocks at manufacturers increased
in November for a second straight month. Data on retail
inventories due to be released on Friday could shed more light
on the size of the boost to fourth-quarter GDP from inventory
The Atlanta Federal Reserve currently forecasts GDP rising
at a 2.9 percent pace in the fourth quarter.
In November, wholesale stocks of farm products surged 5.0
percent after a rise of 2.9 percent in October. Wholesale
inventories of petroleum climbed 2.7 percent, while automobile
stocks increased 3.2 percent.
Machinery inventories fell 0.2 percent in November.
Sales at wholesalers rose 0.4 percent in November after a
gain of 1.1 percent in October. Sales were lifted by a 1.3
percent rise in sales of machinery as well as a 0.5 percent
increase in sales of automobiles.
At November's sales pace it would take wholesalers 1.32
months to clear shelves, up from 1.31 months in October.
While that ratio has declined from the 1.37 months touched
in January, which was the highest since March 2009, it remains
relatively high. That suggests limited scope for a strong
increase in wholesale inventory investment.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)