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U.S. business inventories, sales rise in June

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. business inventories rose in June, but a modest gain in stocks at non-automobile retailers suggested that the growth estimate for the second quarter could be revised a bit lower.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday inventories increased 0.4 percent after rising 0.5 percent in May.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast inventories, which are a key component of gross domestic product changes, advancing 0.4 percent in June.

Retail inventories, excluding autos, which go into the calculation of GDP, gained 0.3 percent after being flat in May.

That was less than the government had assumed in its advance second-quarter GDP estimate published last month. In that report, the government said inventories added 1.66 percentage points to GDP growth, which expanded at a 4.0 percent annual pace.

Data on wholesale and manufacturing inventories released last week suggested the second-quarter growth estimate could be cut by as much as half a percentage point when the government publishes its revisions later this month.

The smaller inventory pile bodes well for third-quarter GDP.

In June, business sales rose 0.3 percent after a similar gain the prior month. At June's sales pace, it would take 1.29 months for businesses to clear shelves, unchanged from May.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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