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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales in February Remained Low, Gasoline Price Up
by Tom Moeller March 4, 2008

With just a 0.3% m/m uptick, the increase in U.S. sales of light vehicles last month did little to recover a 5.4% January drop. At a 15.38M unit annual selling rate, sales remained quite low. According to the Autodata Corporation sales during the last two months which averaged 15.35M, were the worst in nearly ten years and the two months were 5.0% below the 2007 average.

Sales of domestically made light vehicles fell 1.3% last month after a 3.8% m/m decline during January. Sales of U.S. made cars fell 1.7%, the fourth decline in the last five months. Sales of domestically made light trucks slipped 0.9%, the fifth down month in the last six. They're down 11.8% during that period.

Sales of imported light vehicles recovered 5.4% m/m to 3.80M units and made up a little less than half the January plunge. Sales of imported autos rose 6.9% after January's 14.1% m/m decline and sales of imported light trucks rose 2.9%. These figures were from January levels that were revised slightly.

Import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market rose back to 24.7%, near its record monthly levels of last year and an average 24.6% all of 2007. Imported vehicles are those produced outside the U.S. and does not include vehicles with the nameplate of a foreign manufacturer produced within the U.S.

Retail gasoline prices last week moved up another three cents to $3.16 per gallon, according to the US Department of Energy survey.Pushing the price up was an increase in the price for spot WTI crude oil prices to $100.89 per barrel.

Today's speech by Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke titled Reducing Preventable Mortgage Foreclosures can be found here.

Liquidity-Risk Management in the Business of Banking is yesterday's speech by Fed Governor Randall S. Kroszner and it is available here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) February  January Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Total 15.38 15.33 -7.2% 16.18 16.55 16.96
  Autos 7.31 7.25 -2.2% 7.58 7.77 7.65
    Domestic 4.92 5.01 0.3% 5.07 5.31 5.40
    Imported 2.39 2.24 -7.0% 2.51 2.45 2.25
  Light Trucks 8.06 8.09 -11.3% 8.60 8.78 9.32
    Domestic 6.65 6.72 -12.2% 7.12 7.42 8.12
    Imported 1.41 1.37 -6.6% 1.48 1.37 1.20

Weekly Prices 03/03/08 02/25/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon) 3.16 3.13 26.2% 2.80 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) -- 100.89 64.1% 94.00 61.11 58.16
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