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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Lowest Since 2005, Gasoline Price Up
by Tom Moeller April 2, 2008

U.S. sales of light vehicles during March at a 15.11M unit annual selling rate were at the lowest level since October 2005 according to the Autodata Corporation. The 1.7% m/m decline from 15.38M followed an increase of just 0.3% during February and a 5.4% January plunge.

Sales of domestically made light vehicles fell 4.7% m/m. Sales of U.S. made cars fell 1.7%, the same as during February but higher gasoline prices contributed to a 7.0% decline in sales of domestically made light trucks. They're now at the lowest level in ten years.

Sales of imported light vehicles rose another 7.4% m/m to 4.09M units after a 5.4% February increase. The latest was near the record level. Sales of imported autos surged 11.5% following February's 6.9% m/m advance. Sales of imported light trucks ticked up 0.5% m/m after a 2.9% February gain.

Import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market rose to a record 27.0%. 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 again moved up another three cents to $3.29 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 $104.23 per barrel.

Today's testimony by Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke on the Economic Outlook can be found here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) March  February Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Total 15.11 15.38 -7.2% 16.18 16.55 16.96
  Autos 7.51 7.31 -0.8% 7.58 7.77 7.65
    Domestic 4.84 4.92 -2.7% 5.07 5.31 5.40
    Imported 2.67 2.39 2.9% 2.51 2.45 2.25
  Light Trucks 7.61 8.06 -12.8% 8.60 8.78 9.32
    Domestic 6.19 6.65 -14.1% 7.12 7.42 8.12
    Imported 1.42 1.41 -6.6% 1.48 1.37 1.20
Weekly Prices 03/31/08 03/24/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon) 3.29 3.26 21.5% 2.80 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 104.23 106.02 61.9% 94.00 61.11 58.16
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