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Sales Slump Slowing: Annual Rate Could Hit 10 Million Mark

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Potentially good news for automakers this morning: industry analysts predict that when June's sales stats are tabulated, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for light vehicle sales may hit 10 million. That would mark the first time sales have crossed that symbolic line during this calendar year, and it could be a sign that things are finally stabilizing--at least for buyers.

Unfortunately, auto sales will still be down when viewed in the light of year-over-year comparisons. Using figures from analysts at Edmunds, the winners--or rather, the manufacturers whose sales are least terrible--will be Ford (-15.6%), Nissan (-24.2%), General Motors (-28.9%) , Toyota (-28.9%), Chrysler (-29.1%), and Honda (-31.4%).  Seeing each of  the Big Three on that list would seem like good news for Detroit; however, our optimism is somewhat tempered by the fact that GM and Chrysler were helped in June by liquidation sales from closing dealerships and eliminated brands (e.g. Pontiac).

June 2009's anticipated 10 million sales rate is still well below June 2008's 13.1 million mark, but it's definitely an uptick from May 2009's 9.9 million. Goldman Sachs analyst Patrick Archambault says, "We believe we are seeing a genuine stabilization in sales rates that sets the stage for a material uptick in the SAAR." There are a variety of factors that could get in the way of such recovery--including rising gas prices and fragile financial markets--but we certainly hope he's correct.

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