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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Gain Moderately As Imports Jump
by Tom Moeller   October 4, 2010

At least vehicle sales are holding up and not slipping. Unit sales of light vehicles grudgingly moved higher last month, up 2.5% m/m to 11.76M units (SAAR) and recovering the 0.6% dip during August. Though modest, the sales gain was to the highest level since the spike last August due to the aggressive sales program. So far this year, monthly sales averaged 11.32M (AR), up 10.5% from last year's first nine-months. September sales were slightly stronger than Consensus expectations. (Seasonal adjustment of these figures is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis).

Sales of imported autos performed best last month as fuel efficiency still played a big role in the buying decision.Imported light vehicle sales posted a 3.1% m/m gain to 3.24M following an 8.8% August jump. Sales of imported autos rose 5.9% m/m to 2.28M but light truck sales fell 2.9% to 0.96M. Sales of domestically produced vehicles lagged and reversed most of the August decline with a 2.3% increase to 8.52M. Sales of fuel efficient cars rose 2.1% to 3.61M while light truck sales rose 2.5% to 4.92M.

For the month, import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market rose to 27.6%. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the United States.) Strongest was the rise in imports' share of the U.S. car market. It rose to a record 38.7%. That was above the 34.7% for all of 2009. Imports' share of the light truck market slipped m/m to 16.4% and remained below the 19.7% during all of last year.

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

The Outlook, Policy Choices and Our Mandate from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) September August July Sept. Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total 11.76 11.47 11.54 25.4% 10.38 13.22 16.16
 Autos 5.88 5.68 5.63 15.8 5.45 6.76 7.58
   Domestic 3.61 3.53 3.70 9.3 3.56 4.44 5.06
   Imported 2.28 2.15 1.94 27.8 1.89 2.32 2.52
 Light Trucks 5.88 5.79 5.91 36.8 4.93 6.46 8.60
   Domestic 4.92 4.79 4.95 42.4 3.96 5.28 7.10
   Imported 0.96 0.99 0.95 13.8 0.96 1.18 1.47
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