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WHOLESALERS CLEARED OUT INVENTORIES

WASHINGTON

Sales at U.S. wholesalers rose faster than inventories in June, increasing the chances that companies will order more from factories and help offset the housing recession. Stockpiles gained a greater-than-forecast 0.5 percent, matching May's advance, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Sales climbed 0.6 percent after a 1.3 percent increase the previous month. Businesses had goods on hand to last little more than a month at the current sales pace, matching the record low. The need to replenish stocks will keep orders growing, assembly lines running and the economy expanding at the "moderate" pace predicted by the Federal Reserve. "The inventory picture is a positive in the near term," said John Shin, an economist at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in New York. Increasing stocks will probably add a quarter of a percentage point to the economic expansion in the second half of the year, he estimates.

Airwave device fails FCC's test

The government gave a failing grade to a prototype device that Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Dell Inc. and other technology companies said would beam high-speed Internet service over unused television airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission on July 31 said the devices submitted by the technology coalition could not reliably detect unused TV broadcast airwaves, and could also cause interference. Despite the setback, FCC chairman Kevin Martin said Tuesday the agency still would like to find a way to transmit high-speed Internet service over the unused airwaves. In a statement, the technology coalition - which also includes Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp. and Philips Electronics North America Corp., a division of Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics NV - said it will resolve any questions.

TRAVERSE CITY, MICH.

Toyota expects auto sales to fall

Toyota Motor Corp., gaining customers from U.S.-based rivals, said it expects U.S. industrywide auto sales to decline about 2 percent this year and improve in 2008. About 16.3-million cars and light trucks will be sold in 2007, "still a very decent year," said Jim Lentz, executive vice president of Toyota's U.S. sales unit. "We believe the market will rebound in 2008, then continue growing steadily into the next decade." U.S. sales totaled 16.6-million in 2006, according to Autodata Corp. Toyota's forecast would mean sales would improve in the remainder of this year. The number of vehicles sold fell 3.2 percent through July.

LOS ANGELES

Mattel drops dime on Chinese vendor

Mattel Inc. identified the Chinese vendor that made nearly 1-million Fisher-Price toys that were recalled last week because they may contain lead. Mattel said Lee Der Industrial Co. Ltd., in Guangdong province, made the 967,000 toys sold under the Fisher-Price brand in the United States between May and August. Last week, Mattel of El Segundo, Calif., recalled the plastic preschool toys, including popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters. Mattel, the world's largest toymaker, apologized to customers for the recall and said the move would cut pretax operating income by $30-million.

NORTHWEST HIRING TAKES OFF

Northwest Airlines Corp. said more than 1,400 pilots have applied for jobs since it began a hiring push July 24. Northwest said Wednesday that it plans to hire 250 to 350 pilots in the next year. It has also recalled nearly 400 furloughed pilots.

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