Business inventories rose 0.4% to $1.66 trillion in July, while sales increased 0.6% to $1.29 trillion, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The July inventory followed an unrevised 0.1% rise in June. The July inventory figure was stronger than the median 0.2% gain projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

On a year-over-year basis, June inventories climbed 3.2% over the same month in 2012.

The July sales gain followed a revised 0.2% increase in June, first reported as a 0.1% rise. July sales were 4.6% above the same month in 2012.

The total business inventories/sales ratio, based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of July, was 1.28, down from the previous month's 1.29 ratio. The inventory/sales ratio for July 2012 was 1.30.

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