WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. wholesale businesses increased their stockpiles in December at the slowest pace since last summer, another sign that the economy lost some momentum at the end of 2013.
The Commerce Department says wholesalers boosted stockpiles by 0.3 percent in December from November, smallest gain since July.
Sales growth slowed to 0.5 percent December after healthy gains of 1 percent in November and 1.1 percent in October.
Rising stockpiles boost economic growth because they reflect expanding production at factories. Bigger inventories accounted for more than 40 percent of economic growth in the July through September period last year when gross domestic product increased at a robust 4.1 percent annual pace.
The surge in stockpiles slowed the last three months of 2013, and overall growth fell back to a still-healthy 3.2 percent.