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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Improve To Highest Since August '09
by Tom Moeller August 04, 2010

An improved trend has become apparent in the U.S. vehicle sales figures. Unit sales of light vehicles during July rose 8.8% from June to 12.06M units (SAAR) versus 11.08M in June. Sales were the highest since last August and the Cash-for-Clunkers promotion. They exceeded Consensus expectations for 11.6M and were up by nearly one-third from the recession low in February '09. (Seasonal adjustment of these figures is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis).

Firm gasoline prices, up nearly two-thirds from the December 2008 low, are encouraging sales of fuel efficient vehicles. Imported light vehicle sales were strong and posted a 12.6% m/m gain to 3.15M. Sales of imported autos rose 17.9% to 2.23M (6.9% y/y) following the 3.5% June increase while light truck sales rose a lesser 1.5% to 0.92M (-6.5% y/y). Sales of domestically produced vehicles improved 7.6% to 8.91M and reversed the June decline. Sales of fuel efficient cars rose 7.9% to 3.90M (-5.1% y/y) after a 4.6% June decline while light truck sales rose 7.3% to 5.01M (+23.4% y/y).

Overall, import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market improved to 26.1% and added to their June rise. The share was the highest since January but was still below the high of 30.5% in February '09 and the 27.6% average during all of last year. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the United States.) Imports' share of the U.S. car market rose m/m to 36.4%. That was above the 34.8% for all of 2009 but down slightly from the June '08 peak of 37.2%. Imports' share of the light truck market fell m/m to 15.5% and remained below the 19.6% during all of last year.

The U.S. vehicle sales figures can be found in Haver's USECON database.

Economy on cruise control in 2010 and 2011 from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is available here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) July June May July Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total 12.06 11.08 11.63 7.3% 10.37 13.22 16.16
  Autos 6.13 5.51 5.62 -1.1 5.46 6.76 7.58
    Domestic 3.90 3.62 3.79 -5.1 3.56 4.44 5.06
    Imported 2.23 1.89 1.83 6.9 1.90 2.32 2.52
  Light Trucks 5.93 5.57 6.01 17.6 4.91 6.46 8.60
    Domestic 5.01 4.67 5.13 23.4 3.95 5.28 7.10
    Imported 0.92 0.90 0.88 -6.5 0.96 1.18 1.47
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