WASHINGTON -- U.S. wholesalers cut their stockpiles slightly in December while their sales were unchanged, suggesting businesses were cautious at the end of a weak quarter.
The Commerce Department says wholesale business stockpiles dipped 0.1 percent in December from November, after a 0.4 percent rise the previous month. Inventories of furniture and automotive goods fell by the most in more than three years.
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Farm product stockpiles also dropped sharply, likely reflecting the impact of this summer's drought in the Midwest.
Less restocking reduces factory production, which slows economic growth. A big decline in restocking was a major reason the department estimated last week that the economy shrank in the October-December quarter.
Wholesale inventories fell to $497.7 billion, roughly 29 percent above the post-recession low hit in September 2009.