Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Automakers Post Higher Sales in August

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Automakers Post Higher Sales in August

Article excerpt

DETROIT -- Automakers posted higher U.S. sales in August, led by General Motors and Honda, as incentives helped fuel demand from cost- conscious buyers.

Honda reported its best monthly sales ever in the United States, with an increase of 38 percent from August last year. GM's sales of cars and light trucks rose an unexpectedly strong 7.4 percent, thanks to better minivan sales and improved availability of its new midsize cars.

Analysts said the industry's sales topped expectations as consumer confidence in the economy remained high amid low interest rates and low unemployment.

"Consumers have the wherewithal to go out and buy, and auto manufacturers have been kind enough to cut prices," said David Garrity, a Smith Barney analyst.

The automakers' sales news followed two other economic reports that indicate a healthy economy. The Conference Board said today that the index of leading economic indicators rose 0.3 percent in July -- the fastest rate in five months. The index is designed to predict growth over the next half year. The Commerce Department said U.S. construction spending rose 0.5 percent in July, the second straight monthly gain.

Some automakers had lower sales in August than in the year-ago month. Toyota's U.S. sales fell 4.4 percent, while Chrysler's sales were unchanged, even though the third-largest U.S. automaker fattened rebates on several vehicles.

GM easily surpassed analysts' expectations of a sales gain of 2 percent to 3 percent in August. GM's car sales rose 7.6 percent to 247,132, while pickup minivan and sport utility vehicle sales rose 7.1 percent to 173,251.

The automaker said supplies of its redesigned cars and trucks have improved on dealer lots and that they are selling without rebates, except for the Buick Park Avenue. GM boosted incentives on its cars and trucks with older designs. …

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