Wholesale stockpiles rose slightly in November

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Wholesale businesses barely increased their stockpiles in November while their sales grew strongly. The data suggest many companies underestimated consumer demand and may boost their inventories in the coming months.

The Commerce Department says inventories at the wholesale level edged up 0.1 percent in November. Sales at the wholesale level rose 0.6 percent after an even stronger 0.8 percent increase in October.

The modest increase in inventories pushed total wholesale stockpiles up to $468.9 billion, an increase of 22.2 percent from the low hit in September 2009. Stockpiles of metals, machinery and clothing increased in November.

Inventory rebuilding has been a major factor boosting the economy over the past two years and economists expect that trend will continue in 2012.