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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Show Full-Year Strength but Edge Lower At Year-End
by Tom Moeller  January 3, 2014

Stronger employment and income powered unit motor vehicle sales during all of last year to 15.55 million units. It was the highest level since 2007 and up 7.3% from 2012, according to the Autodata Corporation. During December, unit sales of light motor vehicles declined, however, by 6.2% versus November to 15.40 million (SAAR, +1.0% y/y).

Sales of light trucks led last year's strength with a 10.0% rise to 7.79 million units. Sales at year-end slipped m/m to 7.67 million (AR, +2.7% y/y). Sales of imported light trucks rose 10.8% y/y to 1.08 million but ended the year falling to a 1.03 million selling rate. Purchases of domestic light trucks increased 9.9% for the year to 6.71 million. During December, however, they were off 6.3% m/m to 6.64 million (AR), up 2.8% y/y.

Auto purchases improved 4.7% from 2012 to 7.77 million but sales slipped at yearend to a 7.73 million annual rate (-0.6% y/y). Sales of domestics rose 7.4% for the whole year to 5.47 million, then scaled back to a 5.25 million selling rate in December. Sales of imported autos declined 1.2% for the full year to 2.29 million but recovered last month to a 2.48 million selling rate (4.7% y/y).

Imports share of the U.S. light vehicle market last year slipped to 21.7%, its lowest since 2005, but it ticked up to 22.8% last month. Imports share of the U.S. car market fell to 29.5% for the full year but rebounded last month to 32.1%. Imports share of the light truck market was 13.9% for all of last year and 13.4% in December.

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

The Federal Reserve: Looking Back, Looking Forward is the title of today's speech by Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and it can be found here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) Dec Nov Oct Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Total 15.40 16.41 15.23 1.0 15.55 14.49 12.78
 Autos 7.73 8.14 7.63 -0.6 7.77 7.42 6.23
  Domestic 5.25 5.66 5.40 -2.9 5.47 5.10 4.21
  Imported 2.48 2.48 2.23 4.7 2.29 2.32 2.02
 Light Trucks 7.67 8.27 7.61 2.7 7.79 7.08 6.55
  Domestic 6.64 7.09 6.49 2.8 6.71 6.10 5.55
  Imported 1.03 1.19 1.12 1.9 1.08 0.97 1.00
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