September business inventories flat while sales up

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Businesses kept their stockpiles steady in September, marking the first time in nearly two years that they have not boosted their inventories.

The Commerce Department says business inventories were unchanged in September after 20 consecutive monthly gains that stretched back to December 2009. Business sales rose 0.6 percent in September, the fourth consecutive gain.

A slowdown in inventory building trimmed overall economic growth by 1 percentage point in the July-September quarter.

Still, economists say a temporary decline isn’t necessarily a bad sign. With sales strong, businesses will likely resume restocking depleted shelves in coming months and that should provide a boost to economic growth in the October-December quarter.