US wholesale stockpiles and sales break a losing streak

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department says wholesale businesses increased their stockpiles and reported higher sales in March for the first time since September.

Inventories held by wholesalers rose 0.1 in March from February. Sales rose 0.7 percent, the biggest monthly increase since April 2015. Petroleum sales shot up 13.5 percent, the sharpest jump since February 2007, the result of higher oil prices.

The U.S. economy has been sluggish since late last year. Economic growth came in at a lackluster 0.5 percent annual pace from January through March and an unimpressive 1.4 percent the last three months of 2015.

The economy has been hurt by weak growth around the world and a strong dollar that makes U.S. products expensive overseas.