US wholesale inventories revised up in April

A delivery worker loads trucks with totes packed with groceries for delivery inside a Peapod grocery distribution warehouse facility in Jersey City

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. wholesale inventories fell a bit less in April than initially estimated, which could provide a lift to economic growth in the second quarter.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that wholesale inventories slipped 0.1% instead of falling 0.2% as previously reported last month. Stocks at wholesalers dropped 0.2% in March. Economists polled by Reuters had expected that inventories would be unrevised.

Inventories are a key part of gross domestic product. They increased 6.3% on a year-on-year basis in April.

Private inventory investment rose at its slowest pace in 1-1/2 years in the first quarter, helping to restrict GDP growth to a 1.3% annualized pace in that three-month period.

Wholesale motor vehicle inventories rose 0.3% in April after increasing 2.0% in March. But inventories of furniture, lumber, computer equipment and professional equipment fell. Machinery inventories increased 2.1%.

Excluding autos, wholesale inventories dipped 0.1% in April. This component goes into the calculation of GDP.

Sales at wholesalers rebounded 0.2% after dropping 2.7% in March. At April’s sales pace it would take wholesalers 1.40 months to clear shelves, down from 1.41 months in March.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; editing by Paul Simao)