Merchant wholesalers posted a 0.8% increase in inventories in May, while sales jumped 1.6% in the month, according to data released yesterday by the Commerce Department.

Inventories of merchant wholesalers grew to $431.0 billion following an upwardly revised 1.4% increase to $427.6 billion in April, originally reported as a 1.3% uptick to $427.4 billion. Sales of merchant wholesalers rose to about $397.4 billion following April’s revised 1.6% increase to $391.1 billion, originally reported as a 1.4% rise to $390.3 billion.

Economists polled by IFR Markets predicted a 0.7% increase in wholesale inventories and 0.7% growth in wholesale sales.

Inventories were up 8.7% from May 2007, when they were at $396.3 billion, while year-over-year sales posted a 13.7% jump from $350.0 billion. The inventory-to-sales ratio was 1.08, down from 1.09 last month and down from 1.13 a year ago.

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