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Ahead of the Bell: US wholesale inventories

May 8, 2015
FILE - In this April 29, 2015 file photo, a worker lifts Goya Foods products in a warehouse at the new corporate headquarters before opening ceremonies, in Jersey City, N.J. On Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, when the government issues its first of three estimates of growth in the July-September quarter, it’s expected to show an economy slumping from global weakness and reduced corporate stockpiling _ but poised to rise again. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
FILE - In this April 29, 2015 file photo, a worker lifts Goya Foods products in a warehouse at the new corporate headquarters before opening ceremonies, in Jersey City, N.J. On Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, when the government issues its first of three estimates of growth in the July-September quarter, it’s expected to show an economy slumping from global weakness and reduced corporate stockpiling _ but poised to rise again. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department issues its March report on wholesale stockpiles Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern.

STOCKPILES UP: The expectation is that stockpiles held by wholesalers increased by a modest 0.3 percent in March while sales were up 0.4 percent, according to a survey of economists by data firm FactSet.

INVENTORY GAIN: In February, wholesale inventories rose a modest amount while sales kept falling, dropping 0.2 percent after a 3.6 percent sales plunge in January which had been the largest decrease in six years.

Sales have fallen or been flat for the past six months.

Overall economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, slowed to a meager 0.2 percent rate in the January-March quarter according to the government’s a first look at GDP. Many economists believe that figure will turn negative when it is revised next month, reflecting a big widening in the trade deficit in March, information the government did not have when it released its first GDP estimate.

First quarter activity was hurt by an unusually severe winter, which dampened consumer spending, falling oil prices which triggered a big cutback in investments by energy companies and a rising dollar which has hurt U.S. export sales.

But economists remain hopeful that growth will rebound with warmer weather and a recovery in consumer spending, which should get a boost from the warmer weather and continued strong gains in employment.

Many economists believe overall GDP growth will rebound to between 2 percent and 2.5 percent in the current April-June period and then climb above 3 percent in the second half of this year.

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