WASHINGTON — Business inventories, pushed up by a backlog of unsold cars, rose 0.2% in July as total business sales remained essentially unchanged, the government said Wednesday.
The Commerce Department said stockpiles held on shelves and back lots climbed to $676.2 billion in July, following a larger 0.5% increase in inventories in June.
Sales, meanwhile, were basically unchanged in July at $451.6 billion after a giant 1.2% jump in June. The flat overall sales figure included a 0.5% rise in retail sales, a 0.4% increase in wholesale sales and a 0.7% decline in sales by manufacturers.
In an advance report Tuesday, the government said retail sales rose 1.3% in August, the biggest advance in six months, but virtually all of the increase came in a big jump in auto sales.