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November inventories see decline but sales rise

WASHINGTON — Businesses at the wholesale level trimmed their stockpiles in November for the first time in nearly a year, even though sales rose for a fifth consecutive month.

The Commerce Department says wholesale inventories dipped 0.2 percent in November, the first decline since December 2009. Sales rose 1.9 percent after a 2.6 percent surge in October — the largest monthly gain since March.

The November drop in inventories came as a surprise to economists, who had expected another increase. It will likely be viewed as a temporary setback and not the start of a trend in cutting back on stockpiles. Inventory rebuilding has been a major support to the economy over the past year.

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