WASHINGTON - Business inventories were up 0.7% to $1,569.0 billion in January, while sales rose 0.4% to $1,237.2 billion, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

The January gain in inventories followed a revised 0.6% gain in December and was greater than the median 0.5% increase estimated by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

Inventories were up 7.6% from January 2011.

The 0.4% gain in sales in January followed a revised 0.9% increase in December and sales were 7.2% better than in January 2011.

The total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of January was 1.27.

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