WASHINGTON (AP) - Companies were confident enough in the economy in August to keep stocking their shelves, even as other data stoked recession fears.
Businesses added to their stockpiles for a 20th consecutive month and their sales rose for a third straight month, the Commerce Department said Friday. Inventories increased 0.5 percent in August, matching the July gain. Sales climbed 0.3 percent, following a 0.7 percent July increase.
Businesses appeared to believe they'd see enough future demand. So they shrugged off plunging financial markets, weak growth in the first half of the year and the lowest consumer confidence in two years to continue building their stockpiles.
The inventory report covers stockpiles at the manufacturing, wholesale and retail levels. All three levels showed increases in August. Retail inventories rose 0.8 percent to lead all three. Inventories at the manufacturing and wholesale levels both increased 0.4 percent.
Sales at the wholesale level rose 1 percent. Retail sales ticked up 0.3 percent while manufacturers' sales dropped 0.2 percent.
The August gain in stockpiles pushed total business inventories to $1.54 trillion, 16.6 percent higher than their low hit in September 2009. During the recession, businesses had cut back on their inventories.