The US economy is "driven" by vehicle sales. The monthly MARTS retail report has shown that as the economy faltered, so did car sales. This month we saw parts and dealer sales lead the way. Why are business people discussing a slowdown in the auto sector? There has been a shift in buyer preferences from cars to light trucks for at least 20 years. The more people bought Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) the more people bought SUVs to be able to see over and around SUVs. People believed that they were safer in SUVs than standard automobiles. Is there anything to these stories. This column "always:" relies on the non-seasonally adjusted data. It also often references the seasonally adjusted data. The data this month is compelling. We are still seeing strong light ruck sales. We are seeing a waning interest in automobiles. We are also seeing some reduction in us domestic sales as NAFTA has a solid April.
April Automobile Sales Peaked during the late 1970s - Down since 2014. We saw over 1 million units sold during the month of April during 1973, 1977, and 1978. My first car was a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 convertible - used. We almost eclipsed 1 million units during 1984. We dropped below 500,000 April units during the Great Recession and almost fell below 400,000 units. Is there any question why General Motors was taken over by the Government and why Chrysler was sold.?We had a series of strong April Sales months through 2014. This April the combined Domestic and Foreign Auto Sales dropped below the 2016 level, and came in at 537,000 non-seasonally adjusted units.
Best April Light Truck Sales Month - Equaling Last Year. There were more Light Trucks, roughly 880,000 units, sold last month than domestic automobiles by roughly a quarter a million units. There were 16,000 fewer domestic light trucks sold and 15,000 more foreign light trucks sold. This data will most likely be revised and a 1,000 unit difference out of 880,000. is a fraction of a fraction of a percent.
Over 1.4 Million combined automobile and light truck sales during April. This is down from the level seen last April and slightly lower than the 2015 level. We also could look at his as being stronger than April 2007 through April 2014 April levels of sales. Only April 2000, April 2005, and April 2006, as well as April 2015, and 2016, were better. Sixth best out of 51 years is okay.
Second Best April NAFTA Import Month. It will be interesting to see what happens with this data when President Trump sits down to renegotiate NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. We know that some automobile makes are giving second thoughts to moving production across the borders, plural. Canadian NAFTA imports have been rising since 2009 and are at the highest April level ever.
There was a slight pull-back in automobile sales and a very slight dip in light truck sales compared to last April. There was a drop across the board between March and April for Domestic and Imported Automobiles as well as Domestic and Imported Light Trucks. This is normal. We have seen a surge in jobs during the first three months of President Trump's Presidency. Consumer Confidence is up. Those people who lost their jobs and their credit rating during the Great Recession may soon qualify for automobile loans.Commercial Loans for automobiles held steady at $409.8 billion last month, according to the FRED Data )Federal Reserve of St. Louis Economic Data.)
It is interesting to note that some of the economic data from FRED has been discontinued - including the average finance amount. Where are we? We are in a changing market. Will we see a surge as more people work full-time? Time will tell.
It's the economy.
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