Monday, August 1, 2011

U.S. Auto Sales Stall, Casting Doubt on Rebound

Bloomberg -

U.S. auto sales have stalled, casting doubt on a rebound this year as persistent unemployment and tighter lending deter buyers.

Light-vehicle deliveries in July, to be released tomorrow, may have run at an 11.8 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, the average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That would trail the 12.5 million rate in the first half.

The auto industry may lose 1.5 million in projected sales in 2011, according to consultant AlixPartners LLP. The economy isn’t picking up as fast as anticipated, and the drag may continue beyond this year, AlixPartners said. That may put a return to average annual sales of 16.8 million vehicles from 2000 to 2007 out of reach. Unemployment reached the highest level this year in June.

“This curve of unemployment looks like it’s got a lot of legs,” Mark Wakefield, an AlixPartners director in Southfield, Michigan, said in a telephone interview. “This is one of the first recent cycles where demand is not going to go back above its prior peak, because there are just so many structural things that are different this time around.”

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