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US wholesale and retail inventories rose at a brisker pace than expected in February, while the trade gap shrunk more quickly as a decrease in imports outstripped a fall in exports.

According to the US Census Bureau’s monthly report on advance economic indicators, released on Tuesday, the international trade deficit fell nearly 6 per cent from the $68.8bn recorded in January to $64.8bn in February. That beat expectations of a gap between imports and exports of $66.4bn expected by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Exports during that period fell just $0.1bn from a month earlier, while the value of imported goods decreased $4.2bn.

Advance wholesale inventories, meanwhile, climbed 0.4 per cent in February to $594.1bn from $591.9bn a month earlier, representing a 3.2 per cent increase from the same month a year ago. Analysts had tipped a smaller month-to-month gain of 0.2 per cent, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, the percentage change from December 2016 to January 2017 was revised to a smaller decline of 0.2 per cent, from the 0.3 per cent decrease initially reported.

Retail inventories also posted a 0.4 per cent gain in February from a month earlier, at $616.1bn. The year-over-year increase was 3.9 per cent, and the percentage change between December and January figures was also revised higher, from a gain of 0.8 per cent to 0.9 per cent.

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