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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Lowest in a Year
by Tom Moeller December 4, 2006

U.S. sales of light vehicles in November fell 0.7% from the prior month to 16.04M units, according to the Autodata Corporation. The decline was the third in the last four months and was to the lowest level since the dismal October 2005 figure which reflected surging gasoline prices and a plunge in consumer sentiment.

So far in 2006 vehicle sales have averaged 16.53M units, down 2.4% from the comparable period during 2005.

Lower sales of light trucks paced last month's decline with a 2.0% (+2.7% y/y) decline, the third in the last four months. The average of light truck sales year to date is down 5.5% versus the first eleven months of last 2005.

Sales of imported light trucks dropped 4.8% (+29.8% y/y) after a 10.7% jump during October. Year to date sales of imported light trucks are 14.0% higher in 2006 than during the first eleven months of 2005.

Domestic light truck sales fell a lesser 1.4% (-1.5% y/y) but during the first eleven months of this year domestic light truck sales are 8.3% lower than during the first eleven months of 2005 at an average of 7.44M units. They still, however, garnered 85% of the U.S. market for light trucks.

Domestic car sales fell 0.4% (-7.7% y/y) after October's 4.7% slump. Year to date sales of U.S. nameplates were down 7.7% versus 2005. Sales of imported autos, however, increased 3.4% (7.2% y/y) last month and year to date sales of imported autos were up 8.8%.

U.S. car & truck production, a figure in Haver's USECON database, fell 10.4% (-5.3% y/y) during November. Year to date production was off 5.6% from 2005.

Monetary Policy and Uncertainty is Friday's speech by Fed Vice Chairman Donald L. Kohn and it is available here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) November October Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total 16.04 16.16 -0.1% 16.96 16.87 16.63
  Autos 7.38 7.32 -3.2% 7.65 7.49 7.62
  Trucks 8.66 8.84 2.7% 9.32 9.37 9.01
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