Inventories at U.S. wholesalers increased in August by the most in seven months as merchants tried to keep pace with stronger demand.

The value of unsold goods increased 0.5 percent after a revised 0.2 percent gain in July that was larger than previously reported, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 0.3 percent increase. Sales jumped 0.6 percent in August after no change the month before.

Wholesalers had enough goods on hand to last 1.17 months at the current sales pace, matching the previous two months as the lowest since September 2011. With inventories already running lean, companies would need to increase production or import more amid signs of increased demand.

Estimates of the 28 economists surveyed by Bloomberg for wholesale inventories ranged from no change to a 0.6 percent increase. Distributors’ sales were also projected to climb 0.3 percent, the survey median showed.

Wholesalers’ stockpiles of durable goods — those meant to last three years or more — increased 0.6 percent in August, outpaced by a 0.9 percent jump in sales. Inventories of imported automobiles rose 2.4 percent as purchases eased 0.9 percent.

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