Businesses increased their stockpiles for the second straight month in February, a positive sign that they expect further sales gains.
The Commerce Department says business inventories rose 0.5 percent after increasing by an upwardly revised 0.2 percent in January. That's above analysts' expectations of a 0.4 percent gain, according to Thomson Reuters.
That's also the largest jump since July 2008, before the financial crisis intensified.
Factories, retailers and wholesalers slashed inventories during the recession as sales plummeted. Economists are now hoping sustained gains in sales will persuade businesses to rebuild their stockpiles, triggering increased factory production and providing support for the fledgling recovery.
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