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

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 surpassed the 0.5% increase estimated by economists.

The February inventories-sales ratio was 1.17, unchanged from January.

Subscribe Now

Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the bond buying industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.