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US companies restocked at slower pace in December

The Associated Press

FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012 file photo, FedEx workers sort packages at the Oakland Regional Sort Facility in Oakland, Calif. On Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, the government reports how much U.S. businesses adjusted their stockpiles in December. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

SLOWER BUILDUP: U.S. companies restocked their store shelves and warehouses at a slower 0.1 percent pace in December, the smallest rise since last June and a sign of caution as sales weakened.

SLUGGISH SALES: Total sales for wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers increased only 0.3 percent, down from a 0.9 percent clip in November. Slower rebuilding of inventories means factories produced less, lowering overall economic output.

SILVER LINING: But if sales keep growing, companies may have to restock more quickly in the January-March quarter, boosting growth.