Merchant wholesalers posted a 0.2% decrease in inventories in January, while sales rose 1.3% in the month, according to data released yesterday by the Commerce Department.

Inventories of merchant wholesalers slid to $382.2 billion following a revised 1.0% decrease to $382.8 billion in December, originally reported as a 0.8% decrease.

Meanwhile, sales of merchant wholesalers rose to about $346.7 billion, following December’s revised 1.2% gain to $342.4 billion, originally reported as a 0.8% gain.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a 0.6% increase in wholesale sales and a 0.2% rise in wholesale inventories.

Inventories were down 9.7% from January 2009, when they added up to $386.7 billion. Meanwhile, year-over-year, sales posted a 10.5% jump from $313.8 billion.

The inventories to sales ratio was 1.10, off from 1.12 last month and down from 1.35 a year ago.

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