Business inventories rose 0.3 percent in November, reinforcing the view that fourth-quarter economic growth could get a boost as companies restock their shelves.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday that inventories rose 0.3 percent to $1.55 trillion after climbing 0.8 percent the prior month.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast inventories increasing 0.4 percent in November.
Inventories are a key element for measuring changes in gross domestic product.
Manufacturing stocks rose 0.5 percent, while retailers gained 0.3 percent and wholesalers' stocks edged 0.1 percent higher.
Business sales advanced 0.3 percent to $1.22 trillion. The inventory-to-sales ratio, which measures how long it would take to clear shelves at the current sales pace, was unchanged at 1.27 months.