Wholesale inventories, sales post strong Nov gains

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Inventories held by wholesalers posted an unexpectedly strong gain in November while sales shot up by the largest amount in 10 months, two signs that the economic recovery was gaining traction in the fall.

The Commerce Department said Friday that wholesale inventories rose 1.5 percent in November, a much stronger showing than the 0.2 percent drop that economists had expected. Sales jumped 3.3 percent, far better than the 0.9 percent rise that had been forecast.

It marked the eighth consecutive month that sales at the wholesale level have increased and was the largest gain since last January. Economists hope that sustained sales increases will encourage businesses to restock depleted shelves which will in turn mean higher orders to factories and provide support to U.S. factories as they struggle to emerge from a deep recession.