WASHINGTON — Sales of merchant wholesalers dipped 0.1% to $402.4 billion in July after falling an unrevised 1.4% in June, while inventories were up 0.7% to $485.2 billion, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The June decline, the third consecutive monthly sales reversal, contrasted with the 0.8% increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

Sales of metals and minerals fell 2.5% from the previous month to drive the decline, though sales of farm product raw materials rose 5.6% to blunt the impact.

The July sales figure was 2.7% above the level for the same month a year ago.

Inventories fell an unrevised 0.2% the previous month, the Commerce reported.

The gain outpaced the 0.3% increase the economists projected. Leading the advance was a 3.8% spike in the inventories of computer equipment, while inventories of machinery equipment, and supplies rose 1.6%.

The July level of inventories was 5.3% above the level of a year ago.

July's inventories/sales ratio for merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers' sales branches and offices, was 1.21, an increase over the previous month's 1.20 ratio. One year ago, the ratio was 1.18.

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