US business inventories rose slightly in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inventories held by U.S. businesses rose modestly in May, as retailers stocked up to meet customer demand.

The Commerce Department says U.S. business inventories rose 0.2 percent in May after edging up 0.1 percent in April. Sales rose 0.2 percent.

Manufacturers, pinched by weak global demand and a strong dollar that makes their products costlier in world markets, left inventories unchanged. Over the past year, factory inventories were down 3.0 percent.

Meanwhile, retailers raised inventories by 0.5 percent in May and 6 percent over the past year, a sign they are confident that American shoppers will continue to spend.

A slowdown in restocking empty shelves has dragged down economic growth three straight quarters and helped limit growth to a lackluster 1.1 percent annual pace from January through March.