Businesses unexpectedly increased their inventories in October, halting a slide of 13 consecutive declines. The small gain raised hopes that businesses will begin restocking their depleted shelves, helping support the economic recovery.
The Commerce Department says businesses increased inventories 0.2 percent in October. That was better than the 0.3 percent drop economists had expected.
Total business sales rose 1.1 percent, the fifth straight gain.
The hope is that steadily rising sales will encourage businesses to restock shelves, which will boost factory production and bolster a broad recovery.
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