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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Still Driven By Gasoline Prices
by Tom Moeller December 4, 2007

U.S. sales of light vehicles nudged up 0.9% last month to a 16.20M unit annual selling rate, according to the Autodata Corporation. The uptick followed declines in four of the prior five months. Nevertheless, sales so far in 4Q are running slightly ahead of the 3Q average due to an abysmal start to that quarter.

Sales of domestically made light vehicles improved 1.0% m/m to 12.20M units (0.1% y/y). The gain came as sales of U.S. made cars jumped 9.9% to 5.47M units and that more than offset a 4.8% m/m drop in sales of domestic light trucks, still feeling the effects of higher gas prices. It was the third sharp m/m decline in U.S. made light truck sales.

Sales of imported light vehicles inched up 0.4% after firm gains during the prior two months. The rise to 4.00M units (1.4% y/y) was to the highest level since June. The increase was due to a 1.5% gain in sales of imported autos which was the third strong gain in as many months. Sales of imported light trucks fell a moderate 1.4% after a like increase in October.

Import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market remained stable m/m at 24.7% versus an average 23.1% for all of last year.

U.S. Economic Growth Will Be Somewhat Below Potential in 2008 according to participants of the Chicago Fed Economic Outlook Symposium and the news release is available here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) November  October Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Total 16.20 16.05 0.4% 16.55 16.96 16.87
  Autos 7.97 7.47 7.0% 7.77 7.65 7.49
    Domestic 5.47 5.01 9.9% 5.31 5.40 5.36
    Imported 2.50 2.46 1.2% 2.45 2.25 2.14
  Light Trucks 8.22 8.59 -5.3% 8.78 9.32 9.37
    Domestic 6.73 7.07 -6.8% 7.42 8.12 8.15
    Imported 1.49 1.52 1.9% 1.37 1.20 1.23
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