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Economy in Brief

U.S. Auto Sales Up, Light Truck Sales Down
by Tom Moeller May 3, 2006

US light vehicle sales rose a slight 0.9% during April to 16.74M units according to the Autodata Corporation. The sales level matched Consensus expectations.

The rough month-to-month stability of the total, however, masked divergent underlying patterns.

Perhaps reflecting the effects of higher fuel costs, sales of domestic trucks fell a sharp 6.6% (-9.3% y/y) and that decline pulled overall light truck sales down 4.8% (-6.1% y/y) last month. Sales of the relatively fuel efficient imported light trucks, in contrast, rose 5.6% (15.0% y/y).

Auto sales during April rose 7.8% (0.8% y/y) led by an 11.3% jump in imported car sales (12.3% y/y) to 2.58M units, the highest level since early 1990. Sales of domestic autos also improved 6.3% (-3.8% y/y).

Imports' share of the US light vehicle market surged to another record level, at 23.8%. For the first four months of 2006 imports' share averaged 21.2% versus 20.3% during all of last year.

Inventories of domestically made autos fell 10.2% y/y through February while truck inventories, domestics & imports, through March were off 2.7% y/y.

Production of autos was up 14.5% through March though the GDP estimate of total real motor vehicle output through 1Q was down 2.5% y/y.

The U.S. auto supplier industry in transition from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is available here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) April Mar Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total 16.74 16.59 -2.9% 16.92 16.87 16.63
  Autos 8.00 7.42 0.8% 7.65 7.49 7.62
  Trucks 8.74 9.17 -6.1% 9.27 9.37 9.01
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