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Last Update on October 09, 2015 17:12 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cheaper oil and less demand for autos and machinery weighed on wholesalers in August, as their inventories edged up just slightly while sales dropped.

The Commerce Department said today that wholesale stockpiles rose 0.1 percent, and sales fell 1 percent. Sales have slid 4.7 percent over the past 12 months. Inventories have increased 4.1 percent.

Falling oil prices account for much of the declining sales.

Oil inventories -- which are measured in dollars -- plummeted 4.6 percent in August and 36.6 percent over the past 12 months. Sales of autos and machinery also slipped. But rising inventories for equipment, pharmaceuticals and chemicals suggest that wholesalers still see ongoing demand heading into end of the year.

Wholesale inventories are at a seasonally adjusted $583.9 billion, 4.1 percent above a year ago.

Sales weakened as the broader economy began to cool in August, hampered in large part by the risks of a worldwide deceleration in economic activity.


NEW YORK (AP) -- A voting member of the Federal Reserve's policy committee says that he still thinks an interest-rate increase will be appropriate by year's end. But he acknowledges that the outlook for the economy appears cloudier than it did a few weeks ago.

Dennis Lockhart, president of the Fed's Atlanta regional bank, noted that the most recent economic figures have sent mixed signals, with higher risks than he had earlier forecast. Notably, the government said last week that employers cut back sharply on hiring in September and added fewer jobs in July and August than previously thought.

Lockhart said he will closely review consumer activity before deciding how to vote on whether to raise rates at one of the Fed's two final meetings of 2015.

For now, he said, he thinks the economy's progress remains "satisfactory."

Lockhart made his remarks to the annual meeting of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in New York.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that a Fed rate hike remains likely this year but that a final decision will depend on how the economy performs.

In an interview with CNBC, William Dudley says he expects solid U.S. economic growth to offset weakness overseas, which is hurting U.S. exports. But he says the economy will need to further improve for the Fed to raise rates from record lows.

The Fed's final two meetings of 2015 will be later this month and in December. Though Dudley says a rate hike could theoretically occur at any meeting, his comments seemed to favor December over October.

Some economists still think the Fed will delay a hike until 2016 because of pressures from overseas and excessively low inflation.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Wal-Mart has named Brett Biggs, an executive in its international division, as its next chief financial officer.

Biggs will take over on Dec. 31, though Charles Holley, who is retiring, will remain with Wal-Mart for a month to help with the transition.

Biggs has been CFO and executive vice president of Wal-Mart's international business since 2014. He has played a number of roles at Wal-Mart since joining the company in 2000.

Holley has been CFO for nearly five years and has been with the company for more than two decades.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is trying to boost sales. It has increased spending on its online operations to compete with and other online retailers, and it is trying to improve its selection and customer service at stores.

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