Wholesale inventories picked up pace in April

Wholesale inventories picked up pace in April, a signal that businesses are ramping up for greater consumer demand and broader economic growth.

Stockpiles increased 1.1 percent, the 10th straight month of growth, after a 1.1 percent gain March, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday.  

Inventories are 6.7 percent higher than April of last year, bolstered by a 2.8 increase in restocking electrical and electronic goods and a 2.5 percent boost in metals and minerals, except petroleum.

Sales of wholesalers were up 1.3 percent from the 1.6 percent revised March level and, overall, are up 7.8 percent from April 2013.

April saw a 2.9 percent increase in sales of motor vehicles and parts and a 2.4 percent increase in sales of professional and commercial equipment. Sales of drugs and druggists' supplies were up 3 percent from last month while groceries rose 1.2 percent.

The nation's economy contracted at a 1 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year but economists are expecting about a 4 percent pace of growth for the April-June quarter. 

In April, employers added 217,000 and finally recovered the more than 8.7 million jobs lost during the downturn, the Labor Department said Friday.

Jobs growth is expected to pick up pace for the rest of the year and that could put more money in consumers pockets to spend. Consumer spending represents 70 percent of economic activity and is vital to the economy's continued growth.