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US wholesale businesses trim stockpiles in December

WASHINGTON – U.S. wholesale businesses cut their stockpiles and registered lower sales for the third straight month in December.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday wholesale inventories fell 0.1 per cent in December after dropping 0.4 per cent in November and 0.3 per cent in October. Sales fell 0.3 per cent in December after sliding 1.3 per cent in November and 0.2 per cent in October.

Falling inventories are a drag on economic growth. From October through December, businesses cut spending on stockpiles to trim unwanted inventories. That effort cut growth by 0.5 percentage points in the last three months of 2015, a period in which the economy grew at a weak 0.7 per cent annual rate.

Some economists are optimistic that the inventory cutbacks are nearing an end, and businesses will soon begin to restock empty shelves.