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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Businesses added to their inventories for a 12th consecutive month in December, signaling further gains in production at U.S. factories.

The Commerce Department says businesses boosted their inventories 0.8 percent in December. Businesses also saw another solid increase in demand with total business sales rising 1.1 percent in December.

The 12-month string of rising inventories pushed them up to $1.44 trillion in December, a level that economists consider healthy. The December level was 8.7 percent higher than the recent low of $1.32 trillion reached in September 2009.

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