U.S. companies restocked more slowly in March, continuing a trend that has weighed on growth this year.
The Commerce Department says business inventories rose 0.3 percent in March. That was smallest increase since November. Business sales rose 0.6 percent in March.
The small rise in inventories pushed stockpiles to $1.58 trillion, 20 percent above the recent low hit in September 2009, just after the recession ended.
The pace of restocking has diminished this year from the end of last year, contributing less to economic growth in the January-March quarter. Businesses order more goods when they increase their stockpiles. That supports higher factory production and faster economic growth.