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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Reach Recovery High
by Tom Moeller  October 2, 2012

Car shoppers were out in-force last month. Unit sales of light motor vehicles during September gained another 3.0% m/m (13.9% y/y) to 14.96M (SAAR) according to the Autodata Corporation. The gain raised sales to their highest since March 2008. The latest again beat the Consensus estimate for 14.4M sales, according to Bloomberg.

Auto sales increased 4.2% m/m (24.1% y/y) to 7.69M. Domestic car sales nudged up 0.2% to 5.32M (27.1% y/y) while imports jumped 14.3% (17.7% y/y) to 2.37M. Light truck sales rose 1.8% (4.7% y/y) to 7.27M. Domestic light truck purchases gained just 0.2% (7.0% y/y) to 6.30M but sales of imported light trucks recovered 13.4% (-7.8% y/y) to 0.97M.

Imports' share of the U.S. light vehicle market recovered to 22.3% in September. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the United States.) That share was down from its peak of 29.9% in Q1'09. The lower foreign exchange value of the dollar played a role as it made imports relatively more expensive. Imports' share of the U.S. car market also recovered to 30.8% but remained down from its 37.8% monthly peak in 2010. Imports' share of the light truck market rose to 13.6% last month, down from its 23.9% peak in early '09.

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

Okun's Law over the Business Cycle: Was the Great Recession All That Different? from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) Sep Aug Jul Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total 14.96 14.52 14.09 13.9 12.83 11.58 10.38
 Autos 7.69 7.38 7.13 24.1 6.29 5.79 5.45
  Domestic 5.32 5.30 5.01 27.1 4.26 3.78 3.56
  Imported 2.37 2.08 2.12 17.7 2.03 2.00 1.89
 Light Trucks 7.27 7.14 6.95 4.7 6.54 5.79 4.93
  Domestic 6.30 6.28 6.02 7.0 5.54 4.84 3.96
  Imported 0.97 0.86 0.94 -7.8 1.00 0.96 0.97
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