WASHINGTON — Business inventories grew more than economists estimated in July, expanding 1.0% to post their largest increase in two years, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Retail inventories increased 0.7% for the month following a 1.1% gain in June and have grown every month this year as businesses have laid in larger stockpiles in anticipation of greater demand. Retail inventories excluding motor vehicles were flat. Economists expected business inventories would increase 0.5% for July, according to the median estimate.

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