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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Recovered at Yearend, Along With Gas Price
by Tom Moeller January 5, 2006

The Autodata Corporation reported that December US sales of light vehicles rose 9.1% to 17.17M units. The gain added to a 6.7% m/m rise in November but the increases were from an October level that was the most depressed since 1998. In addition, the increase left sales below December 2004 and the 2005 average of sales rose just 0.3% y/y and the annual level was down 2.8% from the record set in 2000. Consensus expectations had been for December sales of 16.8M.

Gasoline also moved higher at yearend with the average retail price at $2.24 per gallon (25.9% y/y), up four cents from the prior week and up a dime from the early December low. This week in spot market trading, gasoline is up another fourteen cents from the last week in December. The latest figures on the demand for gasoline indicate full recovery from declines during the Fall.

Gauging the Size of Today's Price Shocks from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Sales of US made cars & trucks rose 9.3% m/m in December (-5.3% y/y) while the 2005 sales average declined 0.2% from 2004 and fell 7.5% from the 2000 peak. Domestic truck sales rose 17.2% (-3.1% y/y) in December and the 2005 average fell 0.9%. Car sales slid 1.1% (-8.6% y/y) though the annual sales average increased 0.9%.

Sales of imported cars & trucks increased 8.3% m/m (-0.3% y/y) in December and for the year rose 2.1%. Sales of imported trucks rose a sharp 12.5% (-4.7% y/y) and sales of imported autos rose 6.2% (2.3% y/y).

Import's share of the US light vehicle market slipped m/m in December to 21.0% and for the year increased to a record 20.4% versus 12.9% ten years ago.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) Dec Nov Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total 17.17 15.74 -4.3% 16.92 16.87 16.63
  Autos 7.64 7.56 1.7% 7.65 7.49 7.62
  Trucks 9.53 8.18 -3.3% 9.27 9.37 9.01
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