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Ahead of the Bell: US Business Inventories

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October 29, 2013 06:36 AM EST | AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department reports how much businesses adjusted their stockpiles in August. The report will be released at 10 a.m. EDT.

STOCKPILES UP: The forecast is that stockpiles grew 0.3 percent in August compared with July, according to a survey by FactSet. In July, business stockpiles grew 0.4 percent.

SLOW GROWTH: Businesses had slowed their stockpiling in the early part of this year, reflecting consumers' concerns about higher taxes and across-the-board federal spending cuts.

RESTOCKING GAINS: More restocking helps boost economic growth because it means companies are ordering more factory-made goods.

The report on stockpiles covers inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers.

A preliminary report last week showed that stockpiles at the wholesale level rose 0.5 percent in August, the biggest gain since January.

The restocking at the wholesale level was driven partly by recoveries in housing and autos. Auto inventories jumped 2.3 percent, the biggest gain in four months.

The report on business inventories and sales was delayed by the 16-day partial government shutdown. It had originally been scheduled for release on Oct. 11.

Economic growth in the July-September quarter was likely weak. Many economists expect growth at an annual rate of 1.5 percent, down from a 2.5 percent rate in the April-June quarter. In the second quarter, restocking by businesses added 0.4 percentage point to growth.

The outlook for the economy in the current October-December quarter has dimmed. Hiring has slowed and the government shutdown is expected to weigh on growth.

Employers added just 148,000 jobs in September, down from August and an indication that hiring was slowing before the shutdown.

The shutdown is expected to cut about $25 billion from the economy and likely will hold growth to a rate below 2 percent in the fourth quarter. Before the shutdown, many economists had expected growth would improve in the final three months of the year to a pace of 2.5 percent or higher.