WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses increased their stockpiles and their sales in August, a possible sign of stronger growth in the closing months of 2016.

The Commerce Department says inventories rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent between August and July. Inventories have risen a modest 0.7 percent over the past 12 months to $1.82 trillion. Sales also advanced 0.2 percent in August but have been nearly flat over the past year.

Weak inventory restocking has been a drag on growth during the first half this year, reducing the pace at which the economy can expand. Economists say businesses are close to getting inventories back in line with sales, such that inventories will be less of a drag on growth — a trend suggested by the August gains.

VIAThe Associated Press
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