U.S. firms boost stockpiles 0.4%

WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses added to their stockpiles at a slightly slower pace in June compared with May, possibly reflecting weaker sales in the past two months.

The Commerce Department said business stockpiles increased 0.4 percent in June on a seasonally adjusted basis after a 0.5 percent gain in May. Sales rose 0.3 percent in June, matching the May increase. Sales have slowed after rapid gains from February through April.

The sales slowdown was also evident in a separate report showing that July retail sales were flat. Most analysts say they think solid job growth will give a boost to consumer spending and the economy in coming months. Many foresee an annual economic growth rate of around 3 percent in the second half of this year.

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