WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. companies restocked their shelves at a solid pace in August while sales rose for a second straight month. The combination of higher stockpiles and increased sales should help to boost economic growth.

The Commerce Department says business inventories grew 0.6 percent in August following a July gain of 0.8 percent that had been the strongest since January. Sales were up 0.5 percent in August following a 0.9 percent rise in July that followed a big drop in June.

Companies typically boost their stockpiles when they anticipate sales will rise in coming months. Faster restocking helps drive economic growth. When businesses order more goods, it typically leads to more factory production.

Total business stockpiles rose to $1.60 trillion. That is 22.4 percent higher than the low reached in September 2009.