WASHINGTON — Sales of merchant wholesalers rose 1.6% to $424.6 billion in May, the biggest gain since November 2012 when they were up 2.1%, Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

Inventories fell 0.5% to $500.9 billion in May, the biggest decline since September 2011 when they were down 1.1%. The May decrease followed a revised 0.1% drop the previous month, originally reported as a 0.2% gain, the Commerce Department said.

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