WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. wholesale businesses boosted their stockpiles sharply in October as sales rose, encouraging signs for economic growth in the final three months of the year.

The Commerce Department says wholesale stockpiles grew 1.4 percent in October. That's nearly triple the 0.5 percent gain in September. Sales at the wholesale level increased 1 percent in October after a 0.8 percent gain in September.

Rising stockpiles boost growth because it means factories have produced more goods. Robust restocking drove roughly half of the 3.6 percent annualized economic growth in the July-September quarter.

Some economists had predicted that growth would slow in the October-December quarter as companies reduced their inventory building to meet demand. But the strong rise in October suggests businesses expect to see solid sales in the coming months.

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