STOCKING UP: U.S. wholesalers boosted their stockpiles by 1.2 percent in January, the largest amount in 13 months even though their sales dropped 0.8 percent.
LUMBER JACK: The rise in stockpiles was led by a 3.4 percent gain in lumber inventories, a sign that building supply stores are expecting increased home construction. Stockpiles of furniture rose 0.9 percent in January. But farm inventories slipped 1.5 percent.
THE TAKEAWAY: Increased stockpiling supports economic growth by triggering greater factory production. Many economists believe improved inventory building will help lift economic growth to a faster pace of around 2 percent in the January-March period.
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