Business inventories and sales rose in August

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Businesses added to their stockpiles for a 20th consecutive month in August while sales rose for a third straight month. The increase suggests businesses were confident enough in the economy to keep stocking their shelves.

The Commerce Department says business inventories increased 0.5 percent in August, matching the July gain. Sales were up 0.3 percent in August following a 0.7 percent July increase.

A separate report Friday showed consumers stepped up their spending on retail goods in September. The 1.1 percent gain was the largest in seven months, a hopeful sign for the sluggish economy.