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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Slide As Truck Sales Collapse
by Tom Moeller October 4, 2005

US sales of light vehicles slid 2.6% m/m to 16.36M last month, according to the Autodata Corporation. The end of manufacturers' employee price discount programs lowered sales generally but higher gasoline prices hit light truck sales especially hard.

Sales of US made cars and trucks fell 2.8% (-8.3% y/y) following the 21.8% m/m drop in August. Truck sales added a 6.2% (-16.9% y/y) decline to the 30.9% August slide. Domestic car sales benefited from consumers' switch to fuel efficiency and rose 2.1% (6.0% y/y).

Sales of imported cars & trucks slipped 1.6% m/m (+2.2% y/y). Imported car sales rose 2.6% (10.8% y/y) but truck sales fell another 9.8% (-12.7% y/y) on top of the 10.0% August decline.

Import's share of the US light vehicle market rose slightly m/m to 20.7% versus 19.9% during all of last year.

Gasoline prices spiked 16.8% last month. In addition to the evidence from lower truck sales, consumers' response to the jump is reinforced by a 9.2% (-6.2% y/y) decline in gasoline consumption. Gas consumption typically falls sharply in September with the end of the summer driving season, but the 2005 decline was a record as was the y/y drop.

Last week US retail gasoline prices rose 12.5 cents w/w to $2.93 per gallon (+51.1% y/y) versus an average $2.90 during September.

Gasoline Prices Soar; Heating Oil Set for Winter Hike from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas can be found here.

Gasoline Affordability, a 2004 article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) Sept Aug Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Total 16.36 16.79 -6.3% 16.87 16.63 16.81
  Autos 7.95 7.78 7.4% 7.49 7.62 8.07
  Trucks 8.41 9.01 -16.4% 9.37 9.01 8.74
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