The monthly figure, 0.2 percent higher than the consensus forecast, points to consumer demand gaining momentum.
Manufacturers inventories were unchanged in the month, but retail inventories gained 0.4 percent on the month and 2.5 percent on the year.
Automobile inventories declined 0.3 percent in April, due to several industry strikes and slow downs necessary to switch production over to smaller cars in the wake of rising fuel costs.
The total business inventories to sales ratio, was 1.25, based on seasonally adjusted data, the Census Bureau said.
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