U.S. businesses rebuild stockpiles at steady pace

FILE - In this July 1, 2013, file photo, brewer Ken Hermann rolls a fresh keg of beer onto pallets at the Harpoon Brewery in the Seaport District of Boston. The Commerce Department releases its report on business inventories for May 2014 on Tuesday, July 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File) Show caption
FILE - In this July 1, 2013, file photo, brewer Ken Hermann rolls a fresh keg of beer onto pallets at the Harpoon Brewery in the Seaport District of Boston. The Commerce Department releases its report on business inventories for May 2014 on Tuesday, July 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. companies restocked their store shelves and warehouses at a steady pace in May, a sign they expect sales will remain solid in the months ahead.

The Commerce Department says business stockpiles rose 0.5 percent in May, down slightly from a 0.6 percent gain in the previous month. April’s increase was the highest in six months. Total business sales rose 0.4 percent, much lower than April’s 0.8 percent gain.

Steady inventory rebuilding can bolster economic growth by increasing demand for manufactured goods and boosting factory production. Still, sales need to remain healthy so that companies aren’t stuck with unwanted inventories.

For May, inventories at the wholesale level climbed 0.5 percent, while inventories held by retailers ticked up just 0.2 percent. Stockpiles held by manufacturers rose 0.8 percent.