WASHINGTON — Sales of merchant wholesalers were up 1.1% to $415.0 billion in April after rising a revised 0.4% in March, originally reported as a 0.5% gain, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The 1.1% increase for April 2012 was much higher than the median 0.3% increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters. The gain was attributable to a 4.8% gain in sales of petroleum and petroleum products as well as a 4.2% increase in sales of farm product raw materials and 3.8% increases in sales of both apparel and automotive products. The gains were offset by, among other things, a 3.0% decline in sales of paper products.

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