02/15/2017 05:06 EST | Updated 02/16/2018 00:12 EST

US firms increased inventories and sales jump in December

WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses stockpiled more goods in December and posted the biggest sales increase in nearly six years.

The Commerce Department says business inventories rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4 per cent in December, led by an increase in stockpiles at stores that sell food and beverages. Auto and auto parts dealers reduced inventories 0.6 per cent. Furniture and appliance stores also cut back.

Companies also reported a 2 per cent monthly sales increase, the best since March 2011.

Manufacturers reported that sales rose 2.2 per cent in December. Retailers posted a 1.2 per cent gain.

U.S. economic growth was hobbled much of last year by inventory cutbacks. But businesses rebuilt stockpiles in the October-December period, accounting for more than half of fourth-quarter economic growth.