WASHINGTON - Business inventories were up 0.4% to $ 1,575.1 billion in April, while sales rose 0.2% to $1,249.6 billion, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
The April gain in inventories followed an unrevised 0.3% gain in March. Inventories rose 6.0% from April 2011.
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected a 0.3% increase.
Excluding motor vehicles, inventories rose 0.1% over the previous month.
The 0.2% gain in April sales followed a downwardly revised 0.2% increase in March, originally reported as a 0.6% climb. The April figure was 5.4% over sales in April 2011.
The total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of April was 1.26, a tick below the 1.27 ratio of the previous month and a notch above the April 2011 ratio of 1.25.