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INVENTORIES ROSE SLIM .9% IN FEBRUARY

Business inventories rose 0.9 percent in February, the 11th straight gain but a smaller increase than the previous month.

The January gain in inventories was 1.3 percent - revised up from 0.9 percent - and was the largest increase since February 1984, when they also jumped 1.3 percent.The Commerce Department also reported Friday that sales rose just 0.2 percent in February compared with 0.4 percent in January. Sales were up 9.0 percent over February 1994.

The February inventory gain was in line with analysts' expectations and, coming on top of January's huge increase, could lead to reduced production if consumer spending continues to slow as recent signs suggest. The buildup in stockpiles at the retail level was led by furniture stores and department stores.