WASHINGTON - Business inventories were up 0.6% to $1,577.8 billion in February, while sales rose 0.7% to $1,236.7 billion, the Commerce Department reported Monday.

The February gain in inventories followed an upwardly-revised 0.8% gain in January and was higher than the median 0.6% increase estimated by economists polled by Thomson Reuters. The January increase was originally reported as a 0.7% advance.

Inventories were up 7.6% from February 2011.

The 0.7% gain in February sales followed an unrevised 0.4% increase in January and was 7.6% over sales in February 2011.

The total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of February was 1.28, unchanged from both the previous month and from the February 2011 ratio.

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