Merchant wholesalers posted a 0.8% increase in inventories in January, while sales soared 2.7% in the month, according to data released yesterday by the Commerce Department.

Inventories of merchant wholesalers rose to $414.8 billion, following an unrevised 1.1% increase to $411.5 billion in December.

Meanwhile, sales of merchant wholesalers grew to about $387.7 billion, following December’s revised 0.5% decrease to $377.4 billion, originally reported as a 0.7% drop to $376.6 billion.

Economists polled by IFR Markets predicted a 0.5% increase in wholesale inventories and 0.4% growth in wholesale sales.

Inventories were up 6.4% from January 2007, when they were at $389.8 billion, while year-over-year sales posted a 15.1% jump from $337.0 billion.

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