Business inventories were up 1.1% and sales levels rose 0.5% in July, according to Commerce Department data released Friday.

Business inventories rose to $1.507 billion following an upwardly revised 0.8% increase in June to $1.491 billion, originally reported as a 0.7% gain to $1.490 billion. IFR Markets had projected that business inventories would be up 0.5% in the month. Overall inventories were 6.4% above the July 2007 level, according to Commerce.

Stocks of autos — by far the largest component of inventories — grew 3.2% in July, following June’s 0.4% decrease. The category is up 0.8% from the previous July.

Meanwhile, the 0.5% increase in overall business sales brought the category to $1.219 billion. The July figure followed an unrevised 1.7% increase in June, and fell short of IFR’s projected 1.4% increase.

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