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Economy in Brief

July U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Rebounded
by Tom Moeller August 4, 2004

Unit sales of light vehicles bounded back last month. The 12.0% m/m gain to a 17.30M selling rate did not, however, fully recoup the 13.4% decline in June. Consensus expectations had been for sales of 16.7M.

The three month moving average of light vehicle sales improved to 16.86M, up 5.4% versus a low early last year. Pricing has firmed somewhat with that improvement. The CPI for new vehicles has risen at a 0.9% rate during the last three months versus a 4.5% rate of decline in early 2003.

Improved sales of light trucks led last month's rebound with a 17.3% m/m rise which recovered about all of the prior month's steep decline. Auto sales also rose but by a lesser 5.7% m/m which gained back about half of the June skid.

The strength in truck sales raised sales of domestic light vehicles by 15.6% to 14.02M (+2.5% y/y). Imported vehicle sales fell 1.0% m/m, the third decline in the last four months. (US sales of light trucks totaled 7.84M last year while imported truck sales totaled 1.20M.)

Imports' share of the US market for new vehicles in July dropped to 19.0% versus 19.7% last year.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil.Units) July June Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Total 17.30 15.44 2.0% 16.69 16.81 17.26
  Autos 7.48 7.08 -1.9% 7.63 8.07 8.48
  Trucks 9.81 8.37 5.3% 9.06 8.74 8.78
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