February auto sales jump, no sign of slowdown – CNBC

Posted: Tuesday, March 01, 2016

No. 1 General Motors reported that sales fell 1.5 percent. They would have been higher, GM said, if it did not cut shipments to rental companies by 16,500, or 39 percent, from a year earlier. GM shares were up 1.4 percent at $29.84.

Toyota Motor, No. 3 in the U.S. market, said sales rose 4.1 percent in the month. Its ADRs were up 2 percent to $106.11.

GM forecast annualized industry sales for February at 17.7 million vehicles.

Jesse Hurwitz, a Barclays economist, said the strong auto sales indicated that “U.S. households fundamentally remain healthy. Labor markets have continued to improve, wages have started to rise modestly … and that all wraps up into healthier household income.”

Sam Bullard, a Wells Fargo economist, said the auto sales showed the consumer continued to be a bright spot in the economy. Auto sales are an early indicator each month of consumer spending.

“Consumers, while still cautious overall, are confident enough in their own personal economic situation and the outlook to be able to purchase a car,” Bullard said.

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