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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Move Lower
by Tom Moeller  May 1, 2013

After several months at the highs for the economic recovery, U.S. vehicle sales have begun to decline. Unit sales of light motor vehicles during April fell 2.3% m/m (+5.7% y/y) to 14.92M (SAAR) according to the Autodata Corporation. These sales compare to the recovery peak of 15.54M in November. Sales disappointed expectations for 15.3M according to Bloomberg. 

Light truck sales slipped 0.4% (+11.8% y/y) in April to 7.74M. Domestic light truck purchases were virtually unchanged m/m (13.4% y/y) at 6.75M while sales of imported light trucks fell 3.7% to 0.99M, up 2.1% y/y. Auto sales fell 4.2% m/m (-0.2% y/y) to 7.18M last month. Domestic car sales fell 4.3% to 5.11M (+6.3% y/y) while sales of imports fell 3.8% (-13.3% y/y) to 2.07M. 

Imports' share of the U.S. light vehicle market slipped to 20.5% in April, the lowest level since August. (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 was roughly stable at 28.8% and remained down from its 37.8% monthly peak in 2010. Imports' share of the light truck market declined to 12.8% 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.  

Estimating the trend rate of economic growth using the CFNAI from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is available here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) Apr Mar Feb Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Total 14.92 15.27 15.38 5.7 14.48 12.78 11.59
 Autos 7.18 7.49 7.80 -0.2 7.43 6.23 5.77
  Domestic 5.11 5.34 5.51 6.3 5.10 4.21 3.76
  Imported 2.07 2.15 2.29 -13.3 2.33 2.02 2.01
 Light Trucks 7.74 7.78 7.58 14.8 7.05 6.55 5.82
  Domestic 6.75 6.74 6.56 13.4 6.08 5.55 4.86
  Imported 0.99 1.03 1.02 2.1 0.97 1.00 0.96
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