2012 Economic Calendar
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Motor Vehicle Sales  
Released On 3/1/2012 For Feb, 2012
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Total Vehicle Sales14.2 M14.0 M13.7 M to 14.4 M15.1 M
Domestic Vehicle Sales10.7 M11.0 M10.9 M to 11.2 M11.4 M

First chain stores and now vehicle manufacturers are reporting strong sales in February. Total unit sales jumped 6.5 percent in the month to an annual rate of 15.1 million. The gain is centered in cars, especially imports. Prices for cars are less than trucks which will limit the total for dollar sales. But this aside, gains in today's data are strong and do include trucks.

Though these results point to a big monthly gain for motor vehicles, gains in unit sales don't always translate into gains for the component. Unit sales lump in fleet sales, which aren't part of the government's retail sales report, while the government's component includes sales of used cars and of auto parts. Distortions played their effects on January's indications where a 4.6 percent rise for unit sales translated into a 1.1 percent decline for January's motor vehicle component. Still, these results together with this morning's results from chain stores point to a strong gain for February retail sales.

Consensus Outlook
Sales of total light motor vehicles jumped to a 14.2 million annual rate in January for a 4.6 percent gain from December. Sales were concentrated in cars which jumped 13.8 percent to a 7.4 million rate. Truck sales actually fell in January, down 4.0 percent to a 6.8 million rate. This is the first time in nine months that the car sales rate exceeded the truck sales rate. Domestics in the latest month posted an 4.7 percent boost to 10.7 million while imports gained 4.2 percent to 3.5 million.

Unit sales of motor vehicles include domestic sales and foreign sales, otherwise referred to as imports. Domestics are sales of autos produced in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Imports are U.S. sales of vehicles produced elsewhere. These are for light vehicles which include all passenger cars and light trucks up to 14,000 pounds gross weight (including minivans and sport utility vehicles). Individual manufacturers usually report sales on the first business day of the month. One of the first tabulators of the data is Autodata Corporation. Motor vehicle sales are good indicators of trends in consumer spending and often are considered a leading indicator at business cycle turning points. One should note that manufacturers do not break out vehicle sales to businesses, which are a smaller but still significant percentage of the monthly total.  Why Investors Care
Motor vehicles sales slowed notably in 2008 and 2009 due to recession. Recovery boosted sales in 2010 and early 2011 before economic growth slowed. Truck shares hit their peak in 2005 when gasoline was cheap. Trucks have since oscillated sharply with spikes in gasoline in 2008 and 2010.
Data Source: Haver Analytics

2012 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/42/13/14/35/16/17/38/19/410/211/112/3
Release For: DecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNov

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