WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. wholesalers cut their stockpiles for a third straight month even as their sales rose again. That combination could set the stage for stronger economic growth in coming months.

The Commerce Department says wholesale stockpiles fell 0.2 percent in June from May. That follows a 0.6 percent drop in May — the biggest in 20 months — a modest 0.1 percent decline in April.

The last time wholesalers shrank their stockpiles for three months was the July-September quarter in 2009, the first three months after the Great Recession ended.

Sales by wholesalers rose 0.4 percent in June following an even bigger 1.5 percent advance in May. The steady sales gains support the view that businesses will start restocking again in coming months, boosting factory production.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.