US wholesale inventories registered a small increase March from a month earlier, defying predictions for a minor contraction, while the number of job openings remained relatively unchanged during the same month.

US wholesale inventories came in at $594.6bn during March, an 0.2 per cent month-on-month rise from February, when the revised increase came in at 0.3 per cent, according to US Commerce Department data. The small rise came even as sales during that month by merchant wholesales remained virtually unchanged from a month earlier, despite a 9.1 per cent year-on-year increase from March 2016.

The news came as the number of US job openings was little changed in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released on Tuesday.

The number of openings over the month came to 5.743m, at a rate of 3.8 per cent in March. The figure slightly edged out expectations of 5.725m, according to a Bloomberg survey.

The quits rate, or the rate at which people voluntarily leave their job, came in at 2.1 per cent.

The JOLTS data comes after the more closely watched jobs report last week showed the lowest unemployment rate since 2007, supporting expectations of a June rate rise by the US Federal Reserve.

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