Business sales advanced 1.3% in August, the biggest gain in seven months, while inventories grew at just half the rate of the previous month. The Commerce Department said stockpiles held on shelves and back lots climbed 0.2% in August to $678.8 billion following a 0.4% rise in July. Sales posted the biggest gain since a 4.3% increase in February, rising to $458.7 billion in August following a modest 0.2% July increase. The combination of rising sales and a smaller increase in inventories left the inventory-to-sales ratio at 1.48 in August, down from 1.50 in July. The ratio means it would take 1.48 months to exhaust current stockpiles at the August sales pace.