WASHINGTON - Sales of merchant wholesalers were up 1.2% to $409.4 billion in February after remaining unchanged in January, while inventories rose 0.9%, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

The flat January reading was originally reported as a 0.1% decrease. February's sales mark represents a 9.3% rise from the February 2011 level.

The 1.2% sales climb for February 2012 was higher than the median 0.7% increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

Inventories were up 0.9% to $478.9 billion for February after a revised 0.6% gain in January, originally reported as a 0.4% rise.

The February level of inventories was 9.3% above the February 2011 level.

The 0.9% gain for February 2012 surpassed the median 0.5% increase estimated by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

The February inventories/sales ratio was 1.17, unchanged from the previous month and the same as the ratio in February 2011.

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