WASHINGTON - Sales of merchant wholesalers dropped 0.8% to $409.6 billion in May after rising a revised 0.6% in April, originally reported as a 1.1% gain, while inventories rose 0.3%, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The 0.8% decrease for May 2012 stood in contrast to the median 0.2% increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, and was the steepest decline since a 3.6% dive in March 2009.

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