The Commerce Department says U.S. businesses kept their stockpiles unchanged and registered lower sales in August, numbers that could weigh on third-quarter economic growth.
Business inventories were flat from July. Sales slid 0.6 percent, the biggest drop since a 2.3 percent fall in January.
Firms’ caution in building inventory could be a drag on economic growth in the July-September. Economists are expecting growth to slow in the second half of the year from the robust 3.9 percent annual growth rate recorded from April through June.
Commerce reported earlier in the day that retail sales rose just 0.1 percent in September, held down by plummeting gasoline prices and a strong dollar that made imported goods cheaper.