Auto Sales in January Were Better Than Expected

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U.S. auto sales appeared to fare better than expected in January as the industry benefited from low gasoline prices, easy credit, and moderate economic growth, preliminary results showed on Tuesday.

The same trends that boosted sales in 2015 helped blunt the challenges of two fewer selling days and a massive East Coast snowstorm.

Ford Motor Co’s (F) U.S. sales chief, Mark LaNeve, said the last five days of January were strong, helping overcome the snowstorm’s effects. But he said the storm had pressured Ford’s sales, which fell 2.6%.

General Motors (GM), said it expected overall U.S. January sales of 17.5 million vehicles on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, compared with 17.4 million forecast in a Thomson Reuters poll of 27 economists.

GM, the top-seller in the U.S. market, said its sales were up 0.5%.

Toyota Motor (TM), No. 3 in the U.S. market, showed sales down 4.7%, led by an 11% drop for car sales while its sport-utility vehicles, crossovers and trucks gained slightly.

Results of all six of the top-selling automakers in the U.S. market topped expectations of forecasters polled by Reuters.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) showed sales up 7%, its 70th straight month of year-over-year increases. Honda Motor (HMC) sales fell 1.7%, and Nissan Motor reported sales up 1.6%.

January sales had been forecast to decline as much as 5% industrywide. The month now looks poised to show a strong start of what is expected to be a second straight record year.

Still, auto company shares remain pressured as many Wall Street investors say the cyclical industry will soon plateau, ahead of a decline in several years.


U.S. sales hit a record 17.39 million in 2015, according to WardsAuto, which provides data the U.S. government uses for economic analysis.

Sales of Ford’s F-Series pickup trucks fell 5%. Sales of GM’s Chevy Silverado and Fiat Chrysler’s Ram both rose 5%. Each truck is its manufacturer’s best-selling model for the U.S. market.

Volkswagen’s VW brand sales fell 14.6% as it continues to be affected by its diesel emissions scandal.

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