Economists had expected a 0.5 percent rise from the previous month.
Inventories rose to $1.56 trillion, an 7.6 percent increase from a year earlier.
Trade sales and manufacturers' shipments rose 0.4 reaching $1.23 trillion. From January 2011, sales and shipments jumped 7.2 percent.
The inventory-sales ratio for manufacturing and trade businesses was 1.27 at the end of January, up from the 1.26 ratio in January 2011.
The ratio indicates how long it would take to sell all inventory at current prices and attempts to indicate whether inventories are rising due to an anticipation of sales or, conversely, a decline in sales that is causing an inventory backlog.