WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. wholesale inventories rose a bit more than expected in November, suggesting that restocking would probably contribute to economic growth in the fourth quarter.
The Commerce Department said on Friday wholesale inventories increased 0.5 percent after a revised 1.3 percent rise in October.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected stocks at wholesalers to rise 0.4 percent in November after a previously reported 1.4 percent increase in October.
Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product changes. Excluding autos, wholesale inventories increased 0.6 percent. This component goes into the calculation of gross domestic product.
Businesses accumulated a massive amount of inventory in the third quarter, leading economists to anticipate a slowdown in the final three months of 2013. So, far there has been no sign that inventories would be a drag on fourth-quarter GDP, with consumer spending picking up.
Sales at wholesalers rose 1.0 percent in November after a 1.1 percent gain the prior month. Economists had expected sales to rise 0.8 percent in November.
At November's sales pace it would take 1.17 months to clear shelves, down from 1.18 months in October.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)