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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Retraced Earlier Increase
by Tom Moeller November 2, 2006

In October, a 2.8% decline in U.S. sales of light vehicles to 16.16M units retraced most of the prior month's 3.5% increase, according to the Autodata Corporation. During the first ten months of 2006 vehicle sales averaged 16.58M units, down 2.7% from the comparable period during 2005. Consensus estimates had been for 16.2M sales during October

Light truck sales fell 1.8% last month following a 7.5% September gain. That pulled the average of light truck sales year to date down 6.2% versus the first ten months of last year.

Sales of the relatively fuel efficient imported light trucks were again strong and rose 10.7% (38.5% y/y) after a 14.4% September jump. Year to date sales of imported light trucks are 12.4% higher than the first ten months of 2005.

Domestic light truck sales fell 4.1% (+13.4% y/y) during October, the y/y comparison still favorable due to a slump last October after the end of a sales promotion. During the first ten months of this year domestic light truck sales fell 9.0% from the first ten months of 2005 to an average of 7.46M units (85% of the U.S. market).

Auto sales fell 4.0%, the third sequential m/m drop. Domestic car sales slumped 4.7% (-2.1% y/y) but year to date sales of U.S. nameplates were down a modest 1.3% versus 2005. Sales of imported autos also fell 2.6% (+6.0% y/y) and year to date sales of imported autos were up 8.9% versus 2005 and grabbed 31% of the U.S. car market.

U.S. car & truck production, a figure in Haver's USECON database, fell 9.9% (-16.3% y/y) during October. Year to date production was off 5.2% from 2005. For all of last year production was about steady with 2004.

Economy on cruise control through 2007 from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago can be found here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) October September Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total 16.16 16.63 8.9% 16.96 16.87 16.63
  Autos 7.32 7.63 0.4% 7.65 7.49 7.62
  Trucks 8.84 9.00 17.2% 9.32 9.37 9.01
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