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Last updated: May 13. 2013 11:35PM - 960 Views

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Business stockpiles flat


U.S. businesses left their stockpiles unchanged in March for a second straight month while their sales fell sharply.


The Commerce Department said Monday that business stockpiles showed no increase in March on a seasonally adjusted basis. Businesses hadn’t upped their restocking in February, either. Sales fell 1.1 percent in March, offsetting a 1 percent gain in February.


A lack of inventory building could slow economic growth because it means businesses are ordering fewer factory-made goods, especially when sales are falling. However, a report on spending at retail businesses in April suggests consumers rebounded after a weak March. That could lead businesses to replenish their shelves this spring.


Retail spending climbs


Lower-priced gas allowed Americans to step up their spending at retailers in April, from cars and clothes to electronics and appliances. The rebound from a weak March suggests consumers remain resilient in the face of higher taxes and could continue to drive economic growth this spring.


Retail sales edged up 0.1 percent in April from March, the Commerce Department said Monday. That’s an improvement from a 0.5 percent decline in March, which was the largest drop in nine months.


The April gain was stronger when taking out the effect of lower gas prices, which reduced sales at gas stations 4.7 percent — the largest decline since December 2008. The retail sales report is not adjusted for price changes. New Starbucks stores a hit


Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Monday the coffee chain’s first stores in India and Vietnam have been received positively and it might soon be time to give Myanmar a shot too.


“Within the next couple of years, I’d say,” said Schultz of plans to enter Myanmar. His visit to Bangkok this week coincides with the coffee giant’s 15 year anniversary of opening in Thailand.


Starbucks opened its first Vietnam store in February and its first store in India last year. Myanmar is attracting interest from foreign companies and investors after economic and political reforms that have resulted in the European Union dropping sanctions against the country and the U.S. easing them.


Starbucks also announced plans to double the number of stores in Thailand within five years to about 320.


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