Employee organizes treated lumber at Maze Lumber in Peru, Illinois.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Employee organizes treated lumber at Maze Lumber in Peru, Illinois.

U.S. businesses decreased their stockpiles in April by the largest amount since October, while sales were flat.

The Commerce Department says business inventories fell by a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in April, following March’s gain of 0.2 percent. Sales were flat after contracting 0.1 percent in March.

Economists had expected a slight decline in April inventories. But many remain confident that inventory growth will rebound and help support overall economic growth in the current quarter.

Economic growth as measured by the gross domestic product slowed in the January-March quarter, in part because inventories subtracted from overall economic activity. Annual GDP growth was just 1.2 percent in the first quarter. But economists think second quarter GDP growth will strengthen significantly.

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