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Light-Vehicle Sales May Have Stalled in February

February 26, 2001|Reuters

Sagging consumer confidence and high energy prices are thought to have cut U.S. light-vehicle sales in February by a sharp 13% to 15% from near-record levels last year, analysts are predicting. The results, due out Thursday, should still come in at relatively healthy levels, however. And they could lift the dim outlook the industry adopted only months ago, when sales of cars and light trucks plunged as the U.S. economy slowed markedly. Analysts say February light-vehicle sales ranged between 16.3 million and 16.7 million at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, down from 19.2 million in February last year, which was second only to September 1986 when a roaring stock market and end-of-summer incentives boosted sales above 21 million. Detroit's traditional Big Three auto makers--which have been cutting production to slash bloated inventories--are expected to take the brunt of the hit. General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. sales are expected to fall around 12% to 18%. And DaimlerChrysler's struggling Chrysler Corp. could see sales drop as much as 20%.

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