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According to the Commerce Department, business inventories at the factory, wholesale, and retail levels rose by 0.4 percent in April, up from a 0.3-percent advance in March. April's advance was the 16th straight monthly rise. Sales, however, dipped in April by 0.6 percent, their first decline since last September. A rise in inventories could spur a slowing in the economy, as businesses would need to buy less goods to deliver on sales orders. The stock-to-sales ratio, the measure of the length of time it would take for a business to draw down its inventory, rose to 1.32 from 1.31 last month.